News and Recent Developments
- September 2013: What is so special about renewable energy? Why do we call coal, oil, and natural gas—fossil fuels? These are questions being raised by the Climate Detective Team in Stralsund, Germany with third and forth grade students. The center of attraction at a recent Climate Detective demonstration was a parabolic solar cooker that boiled corn on the cob for the children. Thea Holm, visiting from South Africa, showed a video to the children about how she cooks with the sun in her country where it takes only an hour to roast a whole chicken with vegetables. Read more...
- May 2013: Pioneering couple reflect on the state of solar cooking - For almost forty years, Imma Seifert has been involved in the promotion of solar cooking technology. She has used all the solar cooking devices that her husband Dieter Seifert has designed. Seifert’s solar cookers are today used by thousands of people around the world. For 157 days during 2011, Imma cooked all meals for her family in Germany using the 1.4-meter parabolic SK-14 solar cooker. On many of these days she baked bread and cakes, produced jam and made fruit juices. She combines solar cooking with the use of a retained-heat cooking device. On all sunny mornings, she brings ten liters of water to a boil and keeps it hot for use during the day and evening in an insulated retained-heat container (studies have shown that 1/3 of the energy needed for cooking is required simply to bring water up to a boil). Imma and Dieter are convinced that quality solar cookers are not only helpful in overcoming the firewood crisis, but can reduce poverty in developing countries. They believe that solar cookers should also be used in industrialized countries and have proposed a large solar cooking program in Spain, where currently 50% of the youth are unemployed. They also urge schools to teach solar cooking not only as a clean energy technology, but also as a symbol of global cooperation and sustainable development.
- November 2012: GloboSol annual report: Switzerland/Germany - Partner-meeting “Skillshare” - As a “première”, some of our closest friends and solar colleagues from various foreign countries were invited to visit Globosol with Michael Götz. In the course of a manifold study and sight-seeing program, they also became acquainted with parts of Switzerland and southern Germany. Unfortunately only two guests were able to participate: Lorena Harp from Oaxaca, Mexico, the co-organizer of the project “Food-stalls in Mexico”, and Sourakatou Ouro-Bangna, head of the solar center “Solasol” in Sokode,Togo. It was a stimulating event that nevertheless raised questions and unfortunately required significant administrative expense.
- November 2012: Regional Solar Food Processing Network to be established in India - Rolf Behringer reports that the German NGO WISIONS has agreed to support the establishment in India of the first regional Solar Food Processing Network. A workshop to inaugurate this effort will take place in early 2013 (date and location to be announced). The aim of the Solar Food Processing Network (SFPN) is to establish a global network of interested parties (NGOs, governments, farmers, and manufacturers) to develop and promote efficient methods of solar food processing and conservation. These are intended to help reduce poverty, improve local economic opportunities and health, and decrease environmental damage. In countries with high solar insolation, effective solar thermal production technologies will contribute to the sustainable development of small rural communities. SFPN is managed by the German NGO Solare Zukunft (Solar Future in English) (http://www.solarezukunft.org). It is financially supported by WISIONS, an initiative of the Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy to foster practical sustainable energy projects.
- September 2012: Seit sieben Jahren unterstützen die Schülerinnen des Jülicher Mädchengymnasiums afrikanische Frauen in Nairobi. Diesmal reisten 15 Oberstufenschülerinnen nach Afrika, um sechs Solarkocher zu übergeben und beim Aufbau zu helfen. Trotz einiger Anfangsschwierigkeiten war das Projekt ein großer Erfolg - und zwar für alle Seiten. Mehr Angaben...
- April 2007: The Mueller Solartechnik company will soon release its latest solar box cooker, Pil Kaar 2. It has two opposing reflectors that automatically adjust throughout the day to track the movement of the sun, using a microcomputer powered by photovoltaic cells. This allows for constant temperatures to be maintained over extended periods of time without manual adjustment. Due to the design of the cooker and placement of the reflectors, it is recommended primarily for those in equatorial regions. Contact: Mueller Solartechnik
- November 2006: Ulrich Zimmermann wrote to describe his experiences with solar cooking during vacations in the Alps mountains. He takes two cookers on his trips. He uses a small solar box cooker, designed by Group ULOG of Switzerland, for cooking meals at the Alpine cottage where he stays. The cooker is placed so that the broad eaves of the cottage protect it from rain, but allow the sunshine to reach the cooker’s window. Zimmermann also uses a solar CooKit, which he carries on hikes. Partway to his destination he sets up the CooKit and starts the meal cooking. He then continues hiking, and on the return trip he arrives back at the CooKit to find a tasty, hot lunch waiting for him. Zimmermann cooks his food in glass jars that are wrapped in aluminum foil. The outside surface of the foil is painted black to absorb the sunlight and heat the jars. Canning jars and lids are recommended because they release excessive steam pressure if needed. Alternatively, poke a small hole in the lid or leave it slightly loose. Zimmermann says that his trips to the Alps also testify to the importance of solar and other alternative energy sources to reduce greenhouse gasses and climate change. "In the Alps," he says, "you can’t avoid looking at the damage. … All the glaciers around have lost much of their length in the last decades by man-made climate change."
The History of Solar Cooking in Germany
This nation has been an outstanding exporter of solar cooking equipment, knowledge, and promotion over many years, as seen in the country reports which provide information about the many places they have been active. EG-Solar, active in many international sites, attempts to provide education and equipment for people in Germany, as well.
Information that would provide the full picture of use in these major European countries is not available, though most would estimate it to be limited. Though the price of much of the equipment produced in Europe and shipped elsewhere is sufficiently high that it must be subsidized abroad, it could however be sold for backyard or patio use in Europe, and some attempts in that direction are underway. No overall information on the success of that is available.
In Germany, one small experiment in using carbon trading is in place, mentioned in the section on EG Solar. Dr. Dieter Seifert has led the solar cooking community through his thorough investigation of the potential of the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM).
The only example known to this writer (Dr. Barbara Knudson) of the mechanism being used by solar cooking promoters is one in which a small program in Nepal has been financed with funds from the German government on the basis of carbon exchange credits. Dr. Seifert has taken the lead on this matter, and the solar cooking community would do well to learn more about the potential offered by the international framework of the Kyoto agreement.
Climate, Culture, and Special Considerations
- Solar cooker dissemination and cultural variables
- July 2006: Solar Cooking in Europe - Why and How? - Michael Götz
Articles in the media
- July 2009: FEDEX Delivers Solar Cookers to Myanmar Civil War Refugees in northern Thailand - Freight-Net
Audio and video
Non-governmental organizations (NGOs)
Manufacturers and vendors