The future for solar cooking is bright. Awareness levels (both in major and not-so-major world institutions and in many communities worldwide) is increasing. The number of voluntary groups working to spread solar cooking grows every year. Solar cooking promoters are growing in experience and sophistication and are gradually becoming more unified. We believe that as more successful dissemination projects are completed--and documented--in more and more places, large institutions concerned with world poverty and development, world health, the status of women in developing countries, etc., will begin putting some of their resources into spreading solar cooking. We also believe that when the awareness level about solar cooking grows in a region, businesses to service a solar cooker market will begin to emerge and will contribute greatly to making solar cookers more widely available.
In other words, as the mountain of evidence in favor of solar cooking grows beyond the point where it can be ignored, momentum behind solar cooking will increase. In that light, it is important to note events in China and India. Both countries recognized more than 25 years ago that cooking fuel needs were completely at odds with needs to protect threatened forest resources. Both countries launched national solar cooker programs. While some critics find flaws with some of these programs, something on the order of 600,000 solar cookers have been produced in India and more than a million in China. As these nascent solar cooking economies grow, they are likely to influence many other actors or potential actors on the world scene.
Something on the order of two billion people cook with wood or wood-related products. The earth's forests cannot handle the demand, nor can the earth's atmosphere handle the additional carbon that these fires send up into the air in the form of smoke. It is impossible to calculate the degree of horror entailed in the human suffering in poor communities as cooking fuel vanishes or becomes impossibly expensive. The profound need, combined with the simplicity of most common solar cookers, strongly suggests that the solar cooking movement will grow by many orders of magnitude. The real question is how long will it take to reach the majority of those who most need solar cookers.