A Singapore-based money manager plans to raise as much as $125 million to supply energy efficient stoves to families in India and Africa, and will generate returns for investors by selling carbon credits.
The Improved Cook Stoves Carbon Fund will be managed by Singapore’s Impact Capital Asset Management, which has partnered with EKI Energy Services Ltd. The Indore, India-based EKI will invest $25 million in the fund and will also make the stoves, according to ICAM Chief Investment officer Deepak Mawandia.
“There is a huge opportunity for a meaningful impact in India because if you look at the numbers, it’s mind-boggling,” he said in an interview. “In Africa, the impact on society is much larger, because in some of the areas that we are going and some of the things that we are doing, you see a lot more difference.”
The fund is betting the demand for carbon credits, which McKinsey & Co. forecasts may reach $50 billion by 2030, will help it generate returns for investors as polluting companies seek to balance their emissions with offsets generated by CO2-mitigating strategies.
The proceeds will help the fund supply 3 million of the cookers in India, as well as Kenya and Ghana within about two years, Mawandia said.
The stoves will still burn wood that’s currently being used by families — thereby increasing uptake — but will provide better combustion, allowing households to use 50% less fuel and reduce toxic smoke by as much as 40%, according to ICAM.
Each stove helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions by as much as five tons per year and the project will generate as much as 3 million carbon credits annually over five years for each $25 million disbursement, the fund said.
“In the case of cook stoves, most clean alternatives are more expensive than traditional cookstoves,” said Kyle Harrison, an analyst with Bloomberg New Energy Finance. “But offsets can bridge the gap in costs to allow rapid deployment. We forecast carbon offset supply from clean cookstoves could reach 542 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent in 2050.”
ICAM will deploy the stoves in phases. During each tranche, as many as 750,000 will be distributed free to people living in rural areas, specifically targeting those who use traditional methods of cooking, typically three-stone stoves which use coal, cowdung and, firewood as fuel.
“It’s an energy efficient project with a huge climate impact, and indirectly it has an impact on education, economic welfare, health, hygiene,” Mawandia said. “We believe that a well constructed clean-cooking program is perhaps one of the most impactful projects in the climate change space.”
The first beneficiaries will be in India, the world’s third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases by volume in 2022. That will be followed by Kenya and Ghana in Africa, the continent that’s most vulnerable to climate change, despite having contributed the least to global warming and having the lowest emissions.
While EKI is the fund’s first partner, it’s also seeking to entice family offices in Singapore, as well as hedge funds, and European impact investors, Mawandia said.