On January 14th, 2014 the Lao Clean Stove Initiative (CSI) Taskforce and project partners, GERES (StovePlus) and LIRE, held a workshop at the Institute for Renewable Energy Promotion (IREP) in Vientiane.

Over 50 participants met at the workshop to discuss project achievements and the action plan for the months to come. The workshop was hosted by the World Bank delegation including CSI’s team leader for Lao PDR, Ms. Natsuko Toba, and colleagues from the World Bank Lao PDR office. Special guests and experts on health, climate and energy also attended, such as Dr. Kirk Smith from the University of California, Berkeley and Mr. Ken Newcombe from CQuest Capital.

Since 2013, IREP and partners have been leading the work on the development of a clean cookstove standards framework document – the very first for Lao PDR, where over 90% of population uses solid biomass fuels for cooking and heating. Standards are needed to set clear quality and performance benchmarks for stoves being used at the household level.

The national standards document will follow the International Metrics of Interim Standards Guidelines on Cooktoves (ISO IWA). ISO's International Workshop Agreement (IWA), passed in 2012 in the Hague, was the first international effort towards developing standards for cooktoves, based on their performance, emissions and safety.

Prior to the workshop a new stove and material testing laboratory was inaugurated at LIRE. The laboratory performs basic stove testing according to international protocols for thermal efficiency outlined in the ISO IWA for cookstoves. LIRE’s stove testing laboratory is part of the project and will benefit from the capacity support of the Regional Testing and Knowledge Center (RTKC) in Southeast Asia.

The project also includes a pilot on improved wood stove development for Northern provinces in Lao PDR (Luang Prabang, Udomxai and Xiengkhouang). According to a baseline assessment conducted in 2013, an estimated 98% of the population uses firewood as the main source of energy for cooking and heating. Over a third of the population cooks over rudimentary devices, such as three-stone fires and iron tripods. Women and young children are at high risk of exposure to hazardous cooking smoke and its adverse effects. The Taskforce and partners are looking at ways of commercializing improved cooking solutions and raising user awareness in the area.