Solar Cookers

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What are the advantages of solar cookers and other sun-based cooking and drying methods?

  • Protection of endangered forests: In many African countries up to 80% of the wood extracted is used for cooking. Entire regions are deforested and soil erosion sets in. Each solar cooker can save 1,64 tonnes of firewood per year. For each solar cooker that is used at least 50% of the time during a year, the release of 3 tonnes of CO2 can be avoided.
  • Massive reduction of fuel costs: expenses with fuel such as firewood and coal are often as high as one third of the monthly income. This is more than the cost of the food itself. For this reason, the amortisation of a solar cooker requires only a few months. By saving on expensive fuel materials, people can then buy other important items.
  • Income generation opportunities: In addition to the food for the family, it is also possible to prepare baked products and dried fruits for sale. This creates an additional income source.
  • Promotion of health: solar cookers release no smoke, unlike the common wood stoves. This prevents frequent eye and lung problems and contributes to a longer life expectancy.
  • Creation of workplaces: In the African countries it is possible to create new businesses with a small investment.
     

Protection of the environment

The use of solar cookers in countries where the sun is abundant but the economy is poor can help to protect natural resources. In most cases the extraction of wood is excessive and uncontrolled, damaging the habitat available for people, animals and plants. The consequences of deforestation are well known: erosion, displacement of people. climate change... The basis of life disappears.
Up to 90% of the energy needs in poorer countries is covered by wood, primarily for the preparation of food. This makes the solar cookers a simple and accessible alternative with great effect in the fight against deforestation. As the resources becomes scarcer the demand for solar cookers and related technologies increases. 

Improving the livelihoods of local populations

It is not easy but it is nonetheless necessary to provide the solar cookers and corresponding parts for a pilot stage when introduce people to this technology. The materials have to be assembled under experienced guidance and the buyers need to be instructed on how to use the cookers. It is also our goal to have the solar cookers produced with local materials by local artisans, in order to support the creation of workplaces.
When evaluating this technology, UNICEF estimated that one third of the worldwide firewood consumption (350 million Tonnes per year) could be saved by using solar cookers. Since fuels such as firewood or coal are quite expensive, the investment in a solar cooker can be recovered in a short period, creating a financial incentive and a concrete way to improve the living standards. However, even though projects with solar cookers can be economically self-sustaining, it is still necessary to provide some support to reach the poorest sections of the population. On the one hand, setting up workshops and buying the materials requires startup capital. On the other hand, the manufacture of solar cookers is relatively simple but has small profit margins. Since this is not an appealing model for normal businesses, it becomes hard to establish production centres and grow them into an industrial activity. The developed world must therefore play a part in nurturing these technologies, with the NGOs having an important role in this process.