Economics Governance

Surya Nutan: A Green Energy Transition Stove

The formal launch of the Indian Oil Corporation’s patented solar cook-stove by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at India Energy Week 2023 (February 6-8, 2023 in Bengaluru as part of the G-20 calendar of events) must be closely examined from the perspective of India’s national energy story. While Mr. Modi claimed that the stove would soon reach three crore households in the coming years, Union Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas Hardeep Singh Puri described it as a catalyst in accelerating the adoption of low-carbon options such as biofuels, electric vehicles, and green hydrogen.

Salient features of Surya Nutan solar cook-stove

  • Surya Nutan is a stationary, rechargeable, and always kitchen-connected indoor solar cooking device.
  • Indian Oil patented: The Indian Oil R&D Centre in Faridabad designed and developed this patented product.
  • Maximum solar energy utilisation: It provides online cooking mode while charging via the Sun, which maximises system efficiency and ensures maximum solar energy utilisation.
  • How will it work? It captures solar energy, converts it to heat via a specially designed heating element, stores thermal energy in a scientifically proven thermal battery, and then reconverts the energy for use in indoor cooking. The captured energy not only covers the daytime cooking needs of a family of four, but also the evening meal.
  • It operates in a Hybrid Mode (that is, it can use both solar and auxiliary energy sources at the same time), making the Surya Nutan a dependable cooking solution in all weather conditions.
  • Surya Nutan’s insulation design minimises both radiative and conductive heat losses.
  • Surya Nutan comes in three different models: Surya Nutan’s premium model (Breakfast+Lunch+Dinner) can prepare all meals for a family of four.
  • Surya Nutan includes all of the safety features that are required in any indoor appliance.
  • Alternative to fossil fuels: The stove is being marketed as a fossil fuel substitute, with a one-time purchase cost and no maintenance. It does not have a traditional battery that must be replaced. Furthermore, the solar panel has a 25-year lifespan.
  • Surya Nutan is a modular system that can be designed in a variety of sizes to meet specific needs.

The National Energy Story of India

  • The National Physical Laboratory (NPL) developed a solar cooker and state-led hydroelectric power in the 1950s, but failed to address rural energy consumption.
  • Parallel efforts to improve the traditional stove, such as the Hyderabad Engineering Research Laboratories smokeless chulha, were unsuccessful.
  • With a 50% subsidy incentive, the government launched the improved chulhas programme in the 1980s to reduce fuelwood consumption and benefit women’s health and finances. However, the programme failed due to issues with construction, maintenance, and corruption. Despite the risks, women continue to rely on chulha.
  • Cooking consumes 80% of the energy consumed by rural Indian households. Despite the success of the LPG scheme, 668 million people in India use biomass for cooking and lighting. Fuel price increases and subsidy withdrawal force women to use chulha at their own risk.

2023 India Energy Week

  • G20 Presidency of India: India Energy Week 2023 is being organised during India’s G20 Presidency, under the tagline “Growth, Collaboration, Transition”, from 6-8 February 2023 in Bengaluru.
  • It provided a unique opportunity to showcase India as both an engine of global economic growth and a driver of global consumption, backed up by a conducive and investment-friendly environment and a skilled workforce.
  • Opportunity for strategic policy making and knowledge sharing: IEW 2023 provided a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for regional, international, and CEO leaders to convene for strategic policy making and technical knowledge sharing.

Why is it in India?

  • Over the next two decades, India is expected to have the highest increase in energy demand of any country, as its economy continues to grow and create opportunities for its people to realise their full potential.
  • By 2050, India’s share of global energy consumption will rise from 7% to 14%.
  • According to the IEA, India will account for 25% of the increase in energy demand from 2020 to 2040.
  • By 2050, India’s demand for oil and gas will have tripled.
  • Gas consumption is expected to triple by 2030.
  • Gas’s share of the energy mix will rise from 6.3% today to 15% by 2030.

@the end

Surya Nutan has the potential to significantly improve our energy security, as India currently imports 50% of its LPG requirements. It also significantly reduces India’s CO2 emissions and protects our citizens from the whims of volatile international fossil fuel prices. India’s energy transition will be crucial in global energy markets. The India Energy Week comes at a critical juncture, with the challenges of energy security and environmental sustainability influencing long-term energy transition and decarbonization pathways.

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