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Keywords:

  • cookstove efficiencies;
  • firewood;
  • global warming potential (GWP);
  • human toxicity potential (HTP);
  • industrial ecology;
  • wood fuel

Summary

Standard life cycle assessment (LCA) methodology has been used to determine and compare the environmental impacts of three different cooking fuels used in Ghana, namely, charcoal, biogas, and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG). A national policy on the use of cooking fuels would have to look at the environmental, social, and cost implications associated with the fuel types. This study looked at the environmental aspect of using these fuels. The results showed that global warming and human toxicity were the most significant overall environmental impacts associated with them, and charcoal and LPG, respectively, made the largest contribution to these impact categories. LPG, however, gave relatively higher impacts in three other categories of lesser significance—that is, eutrophication, freshwater aquatic ecotoxicity, and terrestrial ecotoxicity potentials. Direct comparison of the results showed that biogas had the lowest impact in five out of the seven categories investigated. Charcoal and LPG had only one lowest score each. From the global warming point of view, however, LPG had a slight overall advantage over the others, and it was also the most favorable at the cooking stage, in terms of its effect on humans.