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Last updated: 20 February 2013      

Events

See also Calendar of events.

News and Recent Developments

Costarican school lunch photo, 12-22-12

School lunches are warmed in solar ovens at schools in Costa Rica.

  • November 2012: Solar Ovens used to warm lunches at educational centers - Due to electric rationing imposed by local Costarican Electricity utility company in January 1979, Shyam Nandwani made the first solar oven for his family in Feb. 1979, to warm the lunch cooked previous night. Shyam has observed the rising demand of our solar ovens at educational institutes to warm the lunch for the students at schools and colleges etc. According to school directors, the reason is to reduce the queue for using microwave ovens as well to reduce the electric bill for the institute and promote environmental culture for the students as well as also for the parents. Read the article
Rolando Madriz, Heredia, Costa Rica, 3-5-12

Rolando Madriz demonstrates a solar cooker at National University’s solar energy laboratory in Heredia, March 2012.

  • March 2012: After a roughly 16-year hiatus, the Costa Rican Solar Energy Association (Acesolar) rides again, and they want nothing less than to capture the sun. They recently held a demonstration of solar cookers at National University’s solar energy laboratory in Heredia. Much of the lab’s research is geared not toward to photovoltaic production of electricity, but toward thermal solar energy – harnessing the sun’s heat that enters our atmosphere and channeling it to some productive end. Read more...
Green Life Academy solar oven workshop.jog

Checking the internal oven temperature at Green Life Academy workshop.

  • November 2010: The Green Life Academy located in Playas Del Coco, Guanacaste, held a solar oven building workshop for their grade school age students. The project was in response to a video from the previous week about the use of solar cooking in Western Africa.
  • November 2006: Solar Energy International’s next "Renewable Energy for the Developing World" workshop will be held 22-27 January, 2007, at Rancho Mastatal environmental learning and sustainable living center. The center is located in the last virgin rainforest of Costa Rica’s Puriscal County. The property shares a significant border with the splendid La Cangreja national park, in Sabana Grande. Much of the six-day workshop will be hands on: participants will help a women’s cooperative build and use solar ovens, design and install a solar-electric system, and build a methane biodigester, amongst other things. The workshop will also include overviews of social and cultural issues related to working in the developing world.
  • March 2006: Sol Verde—a cooperative formed with the support of Sol de Vida and the Central American Solar Energy Project—coordinates promotion activities of 15 community groups, presents the annual “Fiesta del Sol” event, and operates a small solar restaurant with “delicious home cooking.” Sol Verde is headquartered in the Casa del Sol (Guanacaste province), which houses a permanent demonstration facility for solar applications with emphasis on solar cookers. Contact: Juan Arriaga Mora

The History of Solar Cooking in Costa Rica

Costa Rica has a rich resource in the presence of Indian-born Shyam Nandwani, a Professor of Physics at the University Nacional in Heredia, a city near San Jose. Dr. Nandwani's personal interest and long time demonstrations of the power of the sun for domestic purposes have been an inspiration to many, not only in Costa Rica but also around the world. He has been a speaker at numerous international conferences, including all of the world conferences on solar cooking, and has been a guest lecturer at universities in Germany and the United States, among others. He is a sparkplug in the coordination of networks of solar cookers, both in Central America and for the entire continent; almost single handedly, he was responsible for-the organization and implementation of the Second World Conference, held at his university. Surely, most Latin American solar cooks and promoters are familiar with his professional contributions.

Another outstanding contribution to the world of solar cooking is a demonstration site at the Universidad Nacional, where an outstanding collection of solar cookers and dryers of many types and varied size and scope, from household to field army, can be seen. Here one can see, touch, and thus understand the use of devices usually only seen in diagrams and pictures. Students in the university continue the research of Dr. Nandwani by working on and testing new designs, making old ones more efficient, and teaching others about the technology.

Dr. Nandwani not only demonstrates solar devices in his laboratory; his home is also a model for all who want to live lightly on the earth. He uses solar cookers, one of which has electrical backup in case of rain, solar water heaters, even a microwave powered by a photovoltaic cell. The house is a delight to see and visit, a "must" in Costa Rica for solar cooker enthusiasts.

Another major actor on the solar cooking scene in Costa Rica is the organization called Fundaccion Costaricense Sol de Vida (Sun of Life). This organization was one of those initiated in Central America by the work of an American, Bill Lankford. The network is known in the area by its Spanish name of PROCESO. More details of this work are given in the section on Guatemala, where the initial and largest project has been underway for some years, as well as in this section in headings under the other Central American states where similar organizations exist.

An early activity of Sol de Vida in Costa Rica was (in keeping with Latin traditions of celebrations) establishing one such event - La Fiesta del Sol, honoring the sun and held annually. It proved to be a marvelous event for publicizing solar cooking, calling attention of many to this technology. It is not an isolated activity but rather an integral part of the larger project, Sol de Vida. In 1999, the organization was awarded the National Prize in Energy ~ Innovative Project for its work. The Ministry of Environment and Energy, the National Power and Light Company, the Chamber of Industries and the Association sponsor that award for the Investigation and Development of Energy and the Environment.

Sol de Vida has also created an educational facility, EduSol, to house its promotional and teaching activity. The organization is recognized as an innovator beyond the borders of Costa Rica, as well. Above, in the Multi-Nation Promoters section, the United Nations Development Fund is mentioned, specifically its Small Grant Program, which operates on the national level in many countries. Sol de Vida was one of the Costa Rican awardees in 2001, and is featured in the Annual Report of the organization's work, accompanied by an outstanding photograph.

Another Costa Rica project was honored at Johannesburg by the award of the Equator Prize, offered by the same Small Grants Project program of UNDP. Association ANAI, a local NGO in Costa Rica, promotes solar cookers that enable women to engage in income generating activities, thus improving their living conditions and reducing fossil burning. They report a strong focus on encouraging women to pass on their knowledge to their children, thus promoting the use of solar cookers into the future. The Equator initiative prize is offered for community work associated with a World Heritage Site, thus attempting to reconcile bio-diversity conservation with local livelihoods and household issues.

As can be seen, Costa Rica, noted for many forward looking national objectives, is a major player in solar cooking promotion in Central America.

Climate, Culture, and Special Considerations

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