By Sierra Ruth Arinaitwe
As part of government’s effort to support and create demand for the use of electricity for clean cooking, officials from the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development (MEMD) held a demonstration proving that cooking with an Electric Pressure Cooker (EPC) is cheaper than cooking with other sources of energy such as Charcoal and gas.
The demonstration of the EPC was held at the Ministry’s headquarters by experts from the Centre for Research in Energy and Energy Conservation (CREEC), Makerere University supported by the Modern Energy Cooking Services (MECS) in a UK Aid funded research program.
This development follows the revised cooking electricity tariffs introduced by the Electricity Regulatory Authority (ERA) with which electricity consumers can now use the Electric Pressure Cooker to benefit from the reduced cost of electricity in Uganda.
Dr. Mary Suzan Aboo the Managing Director Centre for Research in Energy and Energy Conservation (CREEC) at Makerere University describes the Electric Pressure Cooker as an energy efficient cooking appliance that is here to replace the use of bio mass and other inefficient cooking devices hence reduction in environmental degradation.
She explains that the Electric Pressure Cooker (EPC) uses the principle of a fireless cooker that traps heat, maintains the temperature and pressure and allows the cooking process to be completed using minimum electricity.
The EPC is able to save energy because it combines a number of features that include; a pressure cooker that allows food to cook at a higher temperature which reduces on time spent on cooking a meal; a well-insulated box that minimizes heat loss during cooking; and a thermostat that cuts off power consumption once the desired cooking temperature has been achieved.
According to Dr. Aboo, a number of cooking tests carried out by CREEC established that the ECP can cook up to 83% of Uganda’s local foods from posho, beans, rice, steamed matooke, fish, green vegetables with better texture , flavor and better nutrient retention in the foods.
The findings from the cooking tests indicated that for the same amount of beans cooked, the Electric pressure cooker consumed 0.56 units of electricity, Charcoal stove used 0.82 kg of charcoal, 0.49 kg of gas and the electric hot plate consumed 2.09 units of electricity. In terms of costs the Electric pressure cooker had the least energy cost, followed by charcoal, gas and the ordinary hotplate had the highest energy cost.
The Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development is supporting the promotion and dissemination of the EPC as it is compatible to the objectives on the Sustainable Energy program in Uganda’s Third National Development Plan (NDPIII) which among others include increasing the use of clean energy and reduction of biomass degradation.
The increased use of the EPC will also create additional demand of power reducing the expected excess power generation capacity when Karuma is commissioned. The ministry is therefore in discussion with key stakeholders including Development Partners such as World Bank and GIZ to support the dissemination of the EPC in Uganda.