GACC on solar cooking
Direct solar thermal energy can be used to power solar cook stoves, which can save time, work, money, and combustible fuel in suitable circumstances. Unlike solar photovoltaic energy, which requires expensive PV cells to convert sunlight into electricity, solar thermal energy can be captured instantly and directly with a solar cooker, which generates zero emissions heat for cooking food and boiling water. By comparison, a one hundred square foot PV array would be needed to power a single hotplate. Solar thermal energy can also be used for solar hot water heaters, sterilizers and food driers.
- Health Emissions: Use of direct solar thermal energy to power cookstoves produces no smoke, thus eliminating health impacts associated with cooking over open fires or crude stoves.
- Climate Impacts: Solar energy use emits no greenhouse gasses and does not contribute to climate change.
- Fuel Efficiency: While the efficiency of solar thermal energy for cooking is dependent on sunshine, this “fuel” is available free of charge, making it an extremely cost-effective solution, especially for populations with limited access to other fuel sources.
- Fuel Availability: Most people cooking over open fires or on crude stoves live where sunshine is abundant and solar cooking is possible, as indicated by NASA’s solar insolation maps. However, in the sun’s absence there is often a need to burn combustibles as well, in which case multiple stove technologies can compliment each other. In some places solar can be the main source of household energy, while in others it is an excellent back-up energy source. As with other fuel efficient stoves, solar cookers are unfamiliar to most cooks in the developing world who are used to cooking over an open flame, so their adaptation to these stoves requires careful training and follow-up.
- March 18-22, 2013: (Phnom Penh) The Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves is sponsoring the Clean Cooking Forum 2013, to be held in Cambodia next spring. As with the five Biennial Partnership for Clean Indoor Air Forums, this will be an excellent opportunity for the household energy community to come together and share what is working around the world, what is causing it to work, and what we can do more of, better, or differently. This will an important event for solar cooking promoters to attend, share information, and show unity in a common mission. Registration information...
Recent news and developments
- November 2011: The EPA had decided to test at least one solar cooker for the GACC.
- October 2011: The World Health Organization says that the smoke and gases from cooking fires in the world's poorest countries contribute to nearly two million deaths a year — that's more than malaria. The Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves and the cookstove industry announced last year that they would work together to create a market for better cookstoves, under the aegis of the United Nations. The U.S. government has committed over US$50 million. Half of that will go to NIH for research on how much indoor air pollution needs to be reduced to produce real health gains. Read more...
- 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 nonprofits 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.
Articles in the media
- October 2011: 100 Million Fuel-Efficient Cookstoves by 2020, Is It Possible? - The Morningside Post at Columbia University
- October 2011: Curbing Cooking Smoke That Kills More People Than Malaria - National Public Radio (NPR)