Dar Curtis was chairman of Solar Household Energy (SHE) He began a study of solar cooking in 1989. By 1991, he had learned that this simple technology had enormous potential for our planet where environmental degradation was causing ever greater concern. The use of biomass for cooking in hundreds of millions of households around the world was already unsustainable. The perpetual increase in population guaranteed the situation could only continue to worsen. He noted that “people are much better at growing people than they are at growing trees.”
Given the urgency of need for cheap and renewable household energy, Dar proposed a new solar cooker capable of mass production which combined durability, efficiency, and low cost. He partnered with Louise Meyer who had conducted solar cooking programs in Africa. Based on her field experience, the requirements for such a solar cooker were elaborated to include numerous considerations like portability, simplicity, and allure. Scientists and engineers at the Florida Solar Energy Center accepted the challenge and produced designs for an elegant cooker with only four components. It is called the HotPot.
Louise and Dar founded Solar Household Energy, Inc. in 1998 to induce private sector interest in merchandizing solar cookers on a massive scale in the developing world. SHE, Inc. partnered with the Mexican Fondo Mexicano Para La Conservación de la Naturaleza which arranged for the mass production of the HotPot and its marketing in Mexico. SHE has a small staff which is arranging the introduction of solar cooking in Africa and Latin America. Dar retired from the SHE Board in December, 2013 but continues to actively promote solar cooking.
Recent news and developments
- December 2011: China and India lead the world in large scale solar cooking projects. Dar Curtis of Solar Household Energy recently researched where large scale solar cooking projects are happening around the world. The projects in African refugee camps are fairly well known, but institutional projects and the high-use of solar cookers is happening primarily in Asia. The Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) has registered eight solar cooker projects in China since 2009. A total of 207,000 parabolic solar cookers have been distributed, serving 848,000 people. In India, CDM registered a Gold Standard project in 2006. The Gadhia Solar company has created institutional kitchens with arrays of large parabolic solar concentrators to generate steam. Such an installation at Mt. Abu, Rajasthan, can produce meals for 38,500 pilgrims per day. Read more from his well-documented report. Some Big Solar Cooking Project in Asia, December 2011
- May 2011: On the public education front, Solar Household Energy(SHE) founding director Dar Curtis is participating as a contributing member of the Technology and Fuels Working Group of the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves. This alliance of governments, corporations and non-profits is promoting cleaner cooking solutions than the open cooking fires and inefficient cookstoves used by three billion people around the world. Solar provides the very cleanest cooking of all cookstoves. Read more in the SHE spring update 2011.