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Events

  • July 2011 - June 2012: (Maharashtra) International opportunity for testing solar cooker designs - Originally announced as a one-time event Oct. 11-13, 2011 with a related conference, the solar cooker competition has been cancelled, and instead there will be a year-long opportunity for having solar cookers and fuel stoves tested free. India’s Promoters and Researchers in Non-Conventional Energy (PRINCE) group has updated standards for solar cookers, developed in conjunction with input from SCWNet members. These universal testing standards will be used to evaluate the cookers by simulating real world conditions. Designers, manufacturers, NGOs and individuals are invited to submit solar cookers for testing, and need not be present for the tests. While there will be no cash prizes, solar cookers will be rated on thermal performance, cost of manufacture and transport, and user convenience. Send cookers anytime between now and June 2012 to: Prof. Ajay Chandak, PRINCE, Shamgiri, Opp Swagat Lodge, Agra Road, Deopur, Dhuli – 424005, Maharashtra, India. Include your usual instructions for consumers. If you wish your cooker returned, please arrange to cover return shipping costs. After testing, entrants will be contacted with results, and have the option of omitting their information in the publicly listed ratings. No reply from entrants within two weeks or so after receiving their results will be taken as consent to publish. Other questions? Email: renewable.india@gmail.com.

See also: Calendar of events

News and Recent Developments

Golden Temple, Punjab, India 3-19-12

Golden Temple, Punjab, India

  • May 2012: The Telegraph of Calcutta reports that State Animal and Fish Resources Minister Giriraj Singh will not be affected if the government of India cuts subsidies for LPG cooking gas and kerosene. He has started using solar cookers to prepare meals at home. Fearing a rise in cooking gas prices, he has already started using solar cookers. He has also urged the state energy minister, Vijendra Prasad Yadav, to come up with a plan to reduce the dependence of government buildings on traditional sources of power. Solar energy, the minister suggested, would be a suitable alternative.
  • March 2012: To save the Golden Temple from the ill-effects of pollution the Punjab Energy Development Agency(PEDA) is developing a plan to prepare a daily meal of Langar dal with the help of a solar steam cooking system. PEDA is the governmental agency promoting renewable energy within Punjab, India. To prepare Langar dal for 50,000 to 60,000 devotees daily at the Golden Temple, requires one ton (909 kg) of dal to be cooked each day. A recent study has shown cooking dal with the help of steam will save at least 25 LPG cylinders and also keep the environment pollution-free. PEDA chairman Manjeet Singh said they would bear the entire project cost.
Solar Fire TinyTech Concentrator, 2-21-12

Solar Fire TinyTech Concentrator

  • February 2012: The Solar Fire TinyTech Concentrator has been developed by the TinyTech company for use as either a village power source, or to generate steam for institutional cooking. It measures 90 sq. meters and is a fixed focus completely folding concentrator, not requiring any foundation in the ground.
  • February 2012: Medical colleges including those owned by the State Governments across the country are gearing up to do their bit to tackle climate change by adopting environment-friendly measures. the Medical Council of India (MCI) has proposed that colleges give emphasis to promotion of national bio-gas and manure management programs (NBMMP), national biomass cook-stove programs (NBCP), and solar cooking systems according to their suitability to ensure sustainability.” Read More... - The Pioneer
  • February 2012: Union Minister for New and Renewable Energy, Farooq Abdullah, noted at a recent seminar in Ambala, India, that the rapid rise in the use of fossil fuels has threatened exhaustion of conventional energy sources in the country. He said most of the energy required in the industry, transportation and agriculture field is generated from fossil fuels like coal, petroleum and natural gas. Farooq said his ministry had chalked out a detailed plan to promote solar cooking. - IBN Live
  • January 2012: Private equity firm Zephyr Peacock has reportedly invested $11,000,000 USD in Mumbai-based Gadhia Solar in India.. The solar energy company provides energy solutions by using parabolic concentrated technology and has implemented some of the world’s largest solar thermal systems during the past two decades. Read more...
  • January 2012: Ajay Chandak reports that in the Indian government's 12th five year plan, 2012-2016, 30000 million INR (approx. 600 million USD) is budgeted for solar cooking in a half a million schools. This will not only help in saving environment, but will expose millions and millions of school children to solar cooking and build the confidence that these systems work.
  • November 2011: The World Intellectual Property Organization commissioned an extensive report on the state of solar cooking, prepared by Scope e-Knowledge Center Private Limited based in India. Released in August 2011, the report validates the viability of solar cooking, a technology well-suited for a growing portion of the world's population. It also provides a number of examples of various designs that have applied for patents. Read the report: Patent landscape report on solar cooking
  • October 2011: The latest PRINCE newsletter announces a scheduled training for Scheffler Reflector Solar Cookers coming January 21 -27, 2012. Next, PRINCE founder Ajay Chandak has received an Energy Conservation Award from the Government of Maharashtra. Also, PRINCE has organized a networking workshop for all stakeholders in the renewable energy business on January 25 - 26, 2012. PRINCE Biogas Plants now approved by MNRE. Read more about these items: PRINCE newsletter, Fall 2011
  • January 2011: Government clears plan for sixty solar cities. The Centre will kick off an ambitious scheme to develop sixty solar cities in two years. It will be done in collaboration with city corporations, municipalities and district councils. The focus will be on renewable energy devices such as kitchen waste-based plants, solar water heating systems, solar cooking systems, solar steam generation, drying and air heating systems, solar air-conditioning, bio-mass gasification based systems and biogas.
  • January 2011: RNCOS Report Predicts Growth of Solar Cookers in India. RNCOS, market research and information analysis company, in its recent report titled, “Indian Solar Energy Market Outlook 2012”, studies the latest trends in the industry by utilizing inputs from the state and central regulatory background of the country. According to the report, the solar cookers in India will witness a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 6% in 2010-2013. The report details the rapid growth of solar industry in India and predicts that it will grow more in future. There is a growing demand for solar products in rural areas, and the trend will continue in the future too. The report quotes that the Solar Cookers International has rated India as the foremost country with abundant solar cooking potential. It mentions the various steps taken by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy in India in popularizing the usage of solar cookers in government organizations, villages, societies, hostels and hotels. The report also discusses various factors that push the growth of solar cooker market in India.
  • December 2010: Institutional solar cooking gains momentum in India. A news release from the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, reporting on important activities in 2010, states: Solar concentrating systems, comprising automatically tracked of parabolic dishes, have been found to be useful for generating steam to cook food for hundreds and thousands of people in community kitchens especially at religious places such as Shirdi, Mount Abu, Tirupati etc. The world’s largest system is functioning at Shirdi for cooking food for 20,000 people/day. These systems have found good applications for air conditioning and laundry also and a few demonstration plants have recently been installed. A total of around 80 concentrating systems of different capacities covering 25,000 sq.m. of dish area are functioning in the country, largely for cooking purpose. During 2010, 15 such systems were sanctioned covering a dish area of around 3000 sq.m. More Information...
  • July 2010: The Ahmedabad-based Self Employed Women’s Association has joined forces with the Sierra Club to provide new green jobs and technology for SEWA’s 1.5 million members in India. Ninety-three percent of India’s workforce remains in the informal sector, said Nanavaty, executive director of SEWA. “The Indian economy is growing tremendously, but how do the rural poor also avail of these opportunities?” Sailesh Rao, president and founder of the San Jose, Calif.-based Climate Healers, said his non-profit organization had come up with two solar cook stoves, one that could slow-cook a meal like rice and daal throughout the day, and another that could prepare rotis almost instantly. Women using the solar stoves could also generate an income by selling their carbon credits, Rao told India-West after the talk, envisioning a plan where the credits could be sold for $11 per metric ton, netting rural women about $4. Read more...
Tirupati solar installation
  • June 2010: India's richest temple - Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam (TTD), at Tirumala is relying entirely on clean energy to feed over 70,000 people everyday. The temple has installed solar powered lights, solar cooking system, windmills and a water recycling station. "The basic principle is conversion of water into steam energy. We're converting the solar energy into steam energy. The water flows through the pipes and the solar dishes concentrate the solar energy to the concentrators. In the concentrators the water is converted into steam and that steam is utilised for cooking," says Deputy Executive Engineer (Mechanical) KV Raman Rao. The solar array is similar to to the one recently installed in Shirdi, and also uses the Scheffler parabolic solar oven as the basis for their system.
  • May 2010: Installation of solar cooking devices at the Vigyan ashram near Puna, India.. A project proposal for the installation of solar cooking devices(16sqm scheffler concentrator, PRINCE 40 solar parabolic cooker, tunnel drier, 12 sqm solar batch drier, Bakery / oven , biogas generator) at the Vigyan ashram was submitted to INDUSA. The proposal has been accepted for VA campus for the year 2010. The civil and foundation work are currently underway. More Information...
Shirdi roof collector array

Shirdi roof collector array

Shirdi collector diagram

Shirdi collector array diagram

Shirdi cooking photo

Cooking in the kitchen at Shirdi

  • April 2010: Gadhia Solar Energy Systems Pvt. Ltd. recently completed installation of an enormous solar steam cooking system, capable of cooking 40,000-50,000 meals per day. It is located at Shirdi Saibaba temple in Shirdi, Maharashtra, India. With nearly 30,000 visitors each day, the temple’s dining halls are some of the largest in India. The solar steam cooking system is comprised of 73 rooftop-mounted reflective dishes of 16 square meters each. The dishes concentrate sunlight on receivers that contain water, generating steam that is piped down to the kitchen for cooking purposes. To maintain constant focus with the sun, the dishes automatically rotate throughout the day after being manually aligned once each morning. The solar steam cooking system is retrofitted to existing liquid petroleum gas-powered steam boilers that are still used in the evening and during prolonged periods of inclement weather. Though the solar steam cooking system cost nearly $300,000, government subsidies reduced the temple’s portion to about $170,000. Liquid petroleum gas use has been cut by roughly 100,000 kilograms each year, for an annual savings of approximately $45,000. The temple should recoup its investment in three to four years. According to company founder Deepak Gadhia, the solar steam cooking technology was originally developed in Germany. However, the equipment does not contain imported components and is manufactured with local machinery and labor, creating much-needed jobs. Gadhia has adapted the system for use in India, and has installed 50 such systems of varying sizes over the past two decades. The March edition of CNN’s Eco Solutions program highlights the Shirdi Saibaba temple solar steam cooking system.

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  • December 2009: Speaking at the International Conference on Renewable Energy - Agenda for the North in Chandigarh, Punjab's Deputy Chief Minister seeks "area specific incentive policies" in renewable energy sector...For more of the article from Punjab Newsline...
  • December 2009: "Sabarmati Central Jail is upgrading facilities and living and working conditions... the jail authorities are setting up an economical solar cooking system for its large kitchen to replace gas-guzzling conventional burners..." Rs 40-lakh solar cooking system for city jail from Ahmedabad Mirror.com.
  • November 2009: "Every [Indian] individual/household should have a solar cooker," says Arvind Virmani, Chief Economic Advisor, Ministry of Finance, Government of India. (Read interview) - Moneycontrol.com
  • July, 30 2009: Union Minister for New and Renewable Energy Farooq Abdullah on Thursday inaugurated the world’s largest solar steam system installed at Sri Sai Baba Sansthan, Shirdi. The solar system has been designed for cooking food for devotees visiting the Sansthan. The total cost of the solar steam system is estimated at Rs. 133.00 lakhs for which a subsidy of Rs. 58.40 lakhs has been provided by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy(MNRE). The solar system enables the Sansthan to cook food for 20,000 people a day, resulting in a huge annual savings of one lakh kg of LPG translating to nearly Rs.20,00,000 per year. The system has been installed within a record time of ten months. The Shirdi system generates about 3500 kg of steam every day, which is sufficient to cook food for about 20,000 people. The system has been designed in such a way that it will generate steam for cooking even in the absence of electricity to run the feed water pump for circulating water in the system.
Solar Canteen in India

Ajay Chandak and volunteers running solar canteen.

  • March 21, 2009: Energy Day was celebrated in a unique way in city of Dhule, India, by a voluntary organization PRINCE (Promoters & Researchers In Non Conventional Energy). With the help of around 100 students of mechanical engineering from SSVPS BSD College of Engineering a solar canteen was set up by Prof. Ajay Chandak, Prof. Sham Patil and Prof. Deepak Dubey. Three SK-14, solar dish cooker, one square PRINCE design of dish cooker and one Community solar cooker of 2.3 m dia. were used in the canteen. On these gadgets almost 1000 snacks were cooked and sold by the students. Staff and students of the Institute and invited guests from the city enjoyed solar food. Guests had fun watching the food being cooked in front of their eyes in the solar cookers and to taste the same as any other methods of cooking. Snacks cooked and sold on large scale were Idlis and coffee. However other snacks like Khichadi, Cakes etc. were also prepared for demonstration to the visitors. Many students, staff and visitors showed great interest in the solar cooking demonstrations and local manufacturer, M/s Essential Equipments, reported sell of around ten solar cookers in next two days, which is welcome outcome of such event. Many students were thrilled with the experience of this event for the first time in their life and have shown great interest to organize such events at different locations in the city, next year. Principal of the Institute Dr. Jahagirdar has promised to support such events in future. Other programs for energy day celebrations included demonstrations of energy efficient technologies for lighting, fans and domestic appliances. All these equipments were demonstrated to visitors. Many visitors reported having changed their copper and aluminum ballasts with electronic ballasts in next week. After all seeing is believing. One workshop was also organized for local masons, hoteliers and interested people to teach them skills of installation of biogas plants working on food waste. Chairperson of PRINCE, Prof. Ajay Chandak, has given up LPG since last four years and fuel requirement for his family comes up from the solar cookers and biogas plant working on food waste. PRINCE group has come up with a special cost effective design of biogas plant. After the workshop five people have shown interest in installation of the biogas plants.
  • March 1-3, 2009: Workshop on Entrepreneurship in Renewable Energy" with special emphasis on manufacturing parabolic solar cookers in Dhule, India. More information.
  • November 2008: Priests are urging organizers of community Durga Puja festivals in and around Kolkata to “go green” according to an article in India’s national newspaper The Hindu. They hope to reduce the amount of plastic serving dishes and utensils used during the festivals, and are promoting the use of solar cookers to prepare rice offerings to Devi Durga. The West Bengal Renewable Energy Development Agency will give out awards to puja organizers for use of renewable energy and incorporation of energy efficiency techniques.
Jimmy McGilligan

Jimmy McGilligan awarded OBE by Queen Elizabeth II

  • November 2008: Jimmy McGilligan, Manager of Barli Development Institute for Rural Women originally from Northern Ireland received his medal, OBE an honour bestowed by her Majesty the Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom at Windsor Castle during investiture ceremony on November 11. “For his services to social causes and the use of alternative energy in rural communities in India”, is the recognition of his dedicated service to the rural and tribal women in central India. More information...
India Oct. 2008
  • October 2008: To commemorate the birth anniversary of former Prime Minister of India Mr. Rajiv Gandhi, which is celebrated as “Rajiv Gandhi Renewable Energy Day”. On the occasion, members of Inner Wheel Club of Pune Middtown provided a live demonstration of Solar cooker was demonstrated by roasting peanuts and snacks to the students and dignitaries of the Education department of Pune Municipal Corporation. The students realised the advantages of Solar energy and were delighted They shared their feedback on the occasion.
  • August 2008: Dr. Satyapriya Mukhopadhyay, author of the book “Solar Cookere Ranna” and an international adviser to Solar Cookers International, conducted a solar cooker demonstration and seminar on solar cooking and its usefulness at Srikrishna College in March. The awareness-generation program was organized by National Service Scheme (NSS) of Srikrishna College unit. In attendance were nearly 250 students, as well as all college staff and a significant number of local community members. Mukhopadhyay, with the help of NSS program officers and volunteers, used a variety of solar cookers to cook several solar dishes: rice, mutton curry, spicy onion fish, tomato sauce, cazu nut, Indian porridge, dal, and boiled eggs. Shri Arun Kanti Saha, ex-principal and head of mathematics, and Dr. Sankar Prasad Dey, post-doctoral fellow and head of chemistry, delivered lectures on solar concentrating systems and their domestic and industrial uses. According to Dey, “The local participants and students became highly encouraged and showed their interest for generating awareness about solar cooking among the local people. After the completion of this program, organizations … are frequently requesting to Dr. Mukhopadhyay for conduction such program so that they can adopt the technique for cooking their daily foods. From discussions with local people, it is obvious that the program will go a long way towards creation of awareness of the villagers.”
India august 2008 box cooker

Suryakiran box cooker

  • August 2008: Under the brand name SuryaKiran, Universal Engineers Enterprise has manufactured approximately 15,000 box-type solar cookers for various governmental nodal agencies and private sector clients in India since 1996, according to the company’s Chief Manager Neeraj Kumar Garg. The box cookers are tested, approved and certified by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) and carry the Bureau of Indian Standards ISI mark. They are constructed with fiber-reinforced plastic (FRP) or aluminum bodies, and have a solar-electric hybrid option. Universal Engineers Enterprise also sells parabolic-type solar cookers, along with a variety of solar lighting and water heating systems.
  • August 2008: India’s northern state of Haryana won a nation award for its 2002-2007 solar cooker program. The honor was presented to the Department of Renewable Energy and the Haryana Renewable Energy Development Agency (HAREDA) by President Pratibha Devisingh Patil at a ceremony in New Delhi last November. HAREDA promotes solar cookers statewide and provides subsidies to women wishing to purchase solar cookers. Concentrator-type (or dish-type) solar cookers with a diameter of 1.4 meters retail for approximately 5,100 Rupees (Rs), but are available for 2,100 Rs after combined subsidies from national and state agencies. Solar box cookers sell for approximately 1,800 Rs, and are available for 1,300 Rs after subsidies. According to PunjabNewsline.com, 6,329 dish-type and 1,983 box-type solar cookers were distributed in Haryana during the five year period. Reports by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) show a total of 70,978 solar cookers distributed across India during that time period. For more information about the solar cooker program in Haryana visit www.hareda.gov.in/thermal.htm
Scripps 2008
  • March 2008: A March 2007 white paper — by Dr. Veerabhadran Ramanathan, distinguished professor of climate and atmospheric sciences at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego (USA), and Dr. Kalpana Balakrishnan, head of the Environmental Health Engineering department at Sri Ramachandra University, Chennai, India — outlines a project to reduce air pollution and global warming with community-wide use of solar cookers and improved biofuel cooking devices. The authors provide many referenced details about the negative health and environmental impacts of biomass burning and biofuel cooking, which they say are “the major sources of elemental carbon (EC) in India and other developing nations.” Carbon dioxide and EC, or soot, are the “two largest agents of global warming.” In India, where a reported 90 percent of cooking is done over wood- and dung-fueled fires, several studies have documented that “indoor air pollution leads to 400,000-550,000 premature deaths … from lower respiratory infections and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. … The burden falls disproportionately on women and children, who inhale soot and other particles from smoke released by the burning of biofuels.” This soot combines with outdoor air pollution to form atmospheric brown clouds (ABCs) that “envelope most of India and the Indian Ocean … [leading] to a large reduction of sunlight at the ground and … atmospheric solar heating.” Since EC and other particles in ABCs have relatively short lifetimes compared to carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, the authors believe global EC reductions can “give us a decade or two to come up with viable and sustainable alternatives for fossil fuel combustion.” In the proposed “Project Surya,” solar cookers will be distributed in 65 villages in the Periyar PURA region in the Thanjavur and Pudukkottai districts of Tamil Nadu, benefiting approximately 6,500 households that currently use about 5 kilograms of firewood per day. Other fuel-efficient cooking devices will be available for use at night or on inclement days. The region has a strong base of local nongovernmental organizations and social networks, including women’s self-help groups, that will be useful for project implementation. Input and feedback from the communities will be gathered and used in a number of ways. Surveys of eating habits and estimated cooking fuel requirements will be conducted. Meetings with local leaders will be used to demonstrate a range of solar cooking technologies and to solicit feedback on their suitability and probability of acceptance in the communities at large. Educational outreach and incentives will be used to maximize use of clean cooking technologies. Installation, operation and maintenance training programs will be offered for those interested. Data collection will begin six months before the project launch, and will continue for at least a year after. Using special instrument towers, researchers will measure concentrations of particulates and soot content, as well as surface solar radiation. If feasible, indoor air pollution will be monitored using special equipment installed in select homes. (Alternatively, a mobile laboratory may be used.) Children will be involved as well, collecting data on cooking fuel use and cooking times, among other things. This data will help quantify the reduction in biofuel use and soot emissions. Though the authors state “it is difficult and costly to [accurately] quantify the disease burden due to indoor air pollution,” they “propose to build the evidence for expected health improvements … through documentation of exposure reduction and subsequently through reduction in incidence and severity of diseases.” The stated goals of the project, in order of importance, are: 1. To eliminate the detrimental health effects of indoor smoke; 2. To reduce the negative effects of EC in ABCs on the summer monsoon rainfall, Himalyan glacier retreat and agriculture; 3. To mitigate the global warming effects of CO2 and elemental carbon. Contact: Vanessa A. Balta Cook, Center for Clouds, Chemistry and Climate at SIO-UCSD. Tel: 858-534-8815, e-mail: vbaltacook@ucsd.edu, Web: http://www-ramanathan.ucsd.edu/ProjectSurya.html
Community solar cooker 2007

The new 2.3 meter parabolic Community cooker ready for operation

  • November 2007: Professor Ajay Chandak, of Promoters and Researchers in Non-Conventional Energy (Prince India), reports completion of an ambitious project to manufacture, transport, install and commission over 300 large parabolic solar cookers at tribal schools in the Indian state of Maharashtra. The project was coordinated by Chandak, with manufacturing by PRINCE trainees M/s Essential Equipments and three contractual manufacturers. Twenty-five trained teams carried out installation and testing of the cookers. The entire process took just 45 days, and resulted in 100 schools being equipped. The Community solar cookers, as Chandak refers to them, are 2.3 meters in diameter and powerful enough for a 22-liter pressure cooker. Each cooker cost around Rs. 26,000 ($650) and comes with a large pressure cooker and other accessories.
  • October 2007: Finally the awareness to harness Solar energy and use it to cut costs and save money has arrived in Mumbai. Cut Cost Technologies have introduced the Fuel-Free Cooker in Mumbai, INDIA. Surprisingly its use, in Mumbai, is going to be pioneered by an NGO which is already at the fore-front of adopting renewable energy Sources. The Fuel Free Cooker is an addition to their other renewable energy exploitation. They already have in place solar water heaters and a bio gas plant. Surely more will follow the example of this NGO and save money by cutting costs....because the money saved will be used for the larger good of the society.
Fair Fabricators Cooker 2007
  • April 2007: Fair Fabricators has been honored for its "outstanding performance" in India’s solar cooker program. The award was sponsored by the governmental Ministry of Non-Conventional Energy Sources (MNES). Fair Fabricators reports that it has manufactured and sold more than 100,000 solar cookers in the last two decades. The company is a leading manufacturer of aluminum-bodied solar box cookers, but also manufactures parabolic-type solar cookers and expects to begin production of solar box cookers made of fiber-reinforced polymer (FRP). Contact: Fair Fabricators
Datta cooker frame
  • April 2007: Sankha Subhra Datta has designed a solar box cooker that is suspended at two points within a support frame, allowing for rotation of the entire cooker around a horizontal axis from 5 to 70 degrees with respect to the ground. The cooker can therefore maintain a nearly 90-degree angle to the light as the sun's position in the sky changes. The cooker is rotated around a horizontal axis by repositioning a bar that is attached to the lower front corners of the box between any of 14 slots spread across the base of the frame. Datta says this system has advantages over solar box cookers with tilt-adjusting rear legs — a greater range of rotation can be achieved, and the cook can rotate the unit smoothly without having to lift its entire weight and risk food spillage. Another design feature that helps to prevent food spills is the weighted, rotating cooking tray that keeps the pot horizontal at all times. Regardless of cooker rotation, the pot is always at the center of the cooker because the tray rotates on the horizontal axis of the pot. "This tray holding arrangement is designed for proper utilization of top and bottom reflectors at every inclination … which is not possible in simply suspended tray arrangements [because] shifting of pot location from the central position of the inner box due to the rotation of pot around pivots," Datta says. The cooker frame sits on casters for easy rotation around the vertical axis. The outer box is constructed of galvanized iron and the inner box is aluminum, with glass wool insulation in between. The glazing is double-paned glass with a two-centimeter air gap.
  • February 2007: New Delhi, IPS article Indoor Air Pollution - Silent Killer of Women Over 1.5 million females die prematurely every year by inhaling poisonous fumes as they cook or heat their homes...
  • November 2006: Rural Development Trust, a nonprofit organization near Chennai, has assembled 30 solar box cookers and distributed them to villages in the area for demonstrations and awareness creation. The Trust has prepared simple Tamil-language instructions on how to build a solar cooker and use it to cook common dishes like rice and lentils.
Giant solar cooking system in India

Snow-capped mountains can be seen in the background of the solar cooking system

  • November 2006: An article by M.A. Siraj, appearing in the November/December 2005 issue of Refocus magazine, highlights a solar cooking system installed by Gadhia Solar Energy Systems for the Indian Army. Here is an excerpt: "The Indian Army has commissioned a giant solar cooking system at Leh in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. Located in the Ladakh region at 4,000 meters, it is said to be the world’s highest altitude solar cooking system with the capacity to prepare food for 500 army personnel. Mr. Deepak Gadhia of Gadhia Solar Energy Systems … [said] this was one of the most challenging projects undertaken by his company as the team had to work in extremely adverse climate conditions such as snow, cold winds and sub-zero temperatures. … Prior to solar cooking being introduced, the army kitchen at this base was using nearly 50 kilograms of liquefied petroleum gas and 70 liters of diesel each day to cook food. Described as an icy desert, the region has no vegetation and hence no firewood. Diesel and gas cylinders are transported by air for the Army and the tribal population. The solar cooking system has halved the consumption of these fuels. Gadhia says the heat is generated by five pairs of 9.5 square meter parabolic reflectors which produce steam that is piped down to the kitchen for cooking purpose." Due to the cold climate, the system requires thick pipe insulation, and must be regularly drained of water when not in use.
Ajay Chandak receives award

Professor Ajay Chandak accepts a renewable energy award from Mr. Vinay Kore, the Maharasthra state minister for non-conventional energy, as other dignitaries look on

Deepak and Shirin Gadhia

Deepak (left) and Shirin Gadhia

Steam generators

Solar steam cooking system mounted atop Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam

  • March 2006: Representatives from hotels and educational institutions gathered recently in Tirupati, Andhra Pradesh, to learn about solar concentrating systems for steam generation that can cook thousands of meals daily. Representatives from other industries that could benefit from solar steam generation also attended. The meeting was organized by the Non-Conventional Energy Development Corporation of Andhra Pradesh (NEDCAP) and sponsored by the Ministry of Non-Conventional Energy Sources (MNES). Mr. Deepak Gadhia, Managing Director of Gadhia Solar, detailed how solar concentrating systems work and mentioned several industrial uses in addition to cooking: incineration, waste water evaporation, solar desalination, solar air conditioning and solar space heating, to name a few. Two testimonials were provided. First, Mr. Malliah, Vice President of Sanghi Employee Welfare Association, told of how he attended a lecture by Mr. Gadhia a few years earlier and was convinced that his organization needed to install such a system, given that they are always looking at ways to reduce costs, improve efficiencies and protect the environment. Their system, which cost about $12,500 after a 50% government subsidy, is working well. Costs were recouped within two years. Next, Mr. Kachwaha told of a system that was installed in a silk processing plant. Not only did this system reduce energy costs, but it also reduced noise and air pollution within the plant, resulting in a better work environment and greater productivity. The system has since been repurposed from solar steam generation to solar water heating, with a daily capacity of 1600 liters. After the gathering, participants toured the world’s largest solar steam cooking system at Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam. The system is comprised of 106 rooftop-mounted parabolic concentrators that generate steam for cooking up to 30,000 meals daily. The gathering was covered in a number of newspapers and appeared on television news stations. Contact: Jagadeeswara Reddy
  • January 2006: Professor Ajay Chandak of Promoters & Researchers In Non-Conventional Energy (PRINCE) led a workshop titled “Manufacturing Parabolic Solar Cookers and an introduction to renewable energy technologies.” Twenty people from eight states participated in the workshop, mostly renewable energy professionals. Mr. Chandak hopes that several of them will consider manufacturing parabolic solar cookers in their own states. Large community-size cookers, two meters or more in diameter, proved quite popular. These cookers can cook meals for 30-50 people. Smaller, family-side cookers were also shown, as were related technologies like solar food dryers. Contact: Ajay Chandak, Prince India

The History of Solar Cooking in India

India, Asia's second largest country, next to China, has also the second largest number of solar cookers. The situation in India is more complex than that of China. More is also known about Indian programs. The Third World Conference on Solar Cooking was held in India, permitting the history and progress of solar the technology's uses to become better known around the world.

An official government report informs the reader that the Ministry of Non-Conventional Energy Sources (MNES), Government of India, was established in 1982, first as a Department and later as a Ministry. The Ministry's mandate extends well beyond solar cooking, including fuel efficient wood and charcoal stoves, power from other renewable sources, energy from industrial wastes, research and development in a number of related fields (photovoltaics, biogas, and pollution prevention, for example). MNES began seriously to promote solar cooking in the early 80s, with an initial focus almost entirely on the box cooker.

The population of India is roughly 70% rural. MNES states that "cooking accounts for a major share of the total energy consumption in rural homes (Singhal, correspondence, 2003, p. 1). Sources of that energy are largely fuelwood, animal dung, or crop residues, all of which emit smoke, pollute the atmosphere, and are deterimental to health and safety of family members, particularly women. Fuelwood is become scarcer each year. FAO data show that 21.6% of the Indian land mass is forested, and conservation efforts are in place to reverse previous loss. The effort is affected by the large and dense population and a slowing but still substantial birth rate (continuing to increase at 1.7% per annum, or 17% in a decade). Solar cooking has been viewed as one way to alleviate a number of India's problems and as such was supported by government efforts.

The Press Bureau of the Government of India reported in 2007 that there are 525,000 solar cookers installed in India.[1] The Press Bureau also reported in 2003 that, "The solar cooker programme has been expanded by introducing new designs for community use. Three solar steam cooking systems based on automatic tracking concentrating collective technology for cooking food for 600-3,000 people per day, and one system based on ‘Solar Bowl’ technology, have been installed. World's largest solar steam cooking system has been installed at Tirumala Tirupati. The system is designed to cook two meals for 15,000 persons in one day. Another system for 2,000 people was erected at Brahmakumaris Ashram in Gurgaon in July, 2002. Three community cookers for indoor cooking have been installed at a training hostel and an NGO’s establishment in Leh. In all, six such systems have been installed under the MNES demonstration scheme. A total of 500 dish solar cookers and 60 community solar cookers have been installed so far."[2]

Climate, Culture, and Special Considerations

Solar Cookers International has rated India as the #1 country in the world in terms of solar cooking potential (See: The 25 countries with the most solar cooking potential). The estimated number of people in India suffering from fuel scarcity but with ample sunshine in 2020 is 157,400,000. In December 2007 the Indian Government instituted a program of rebates on various renewable energy devices including solar cookers. Solar cooking has been recommended even in the Rig Veda which says: "All edibles ripened or cooked in the sun’s rays change into super medicine, the amrita."

The Economic Times of India reports:

While 300 million people live below poverty line, making do with energy inefficient dung cakes, twigs and branches and occasional bits of coal, the urban middle class and the rural rich are splurging on cheap petrol, cheaper diesel, even cheaper kerosene, and absurdly cheap LPG.
The subsidy is massive - hidden by a disingenuous device called oil bonds. Here are some rock solid facts. IOC, HPCL and BPCL are currently losing $137 million a day (i.e., Rs 582 crore per day at Rs 42.50 = $1). They lose Rs 16.34 for each litre of petrol, and Rs 23.49 for each litre of diesel sold in Delhi.
The subsidy on kerosene at Rs 28.72 per litre is over three times the current retail price; and the subsidy on a cylinder of cooking gas at Rs 306 per cylinder exceeds the retail price. The total under-recovery for the oil marketing companies for 2006-07 was over $19 billion. With oil prices touching $135, under-recoveries can be $50 billion this year, unless retail prices are substantially increased.[3]

In a report presented during the Asian Clean Energy Forum in June 2008, Soma Dutta, Asia regional network coordinator for the Amsterdam-based ENERGIA International Network on Gender and Sustainable Energy, says that only 45 percent of India’s 70 percent rural population have access to electricity, and over 80 percent still rely on firewood as their main cooking fuel. The long hours and big effort spent just gathering firewood give these women little time for education or employment, she adds.[4]

Another take on the social acceptance of solar cooking in India:

Technologies have been failing in the villages for many reasons, but most commonly for lack of market knowledge on the part of the innovator. One example is the solar cooker, which was first developed about 20 years ago. This technology never caught on despite the purported cost savings because it was not created in a way that suited the lifestyles of the individuals using it. The solar stove was most powerful at the times of the strongest sunlight, which was mid-day and early afternoon. The population it was made for were largely village farmers who consumed their big meals by early to mid-morning and then again late at night, after the sun had gone down. In addition to this the stoves were not made in a way that was conducive to Indian-style cooking. The stove had four separate chambers which could boil or slow cook food. Indian cooking is mostly with oil (with the exception of rice) and requires frequent temperature manipulation and flipping and turning which was not possible with the solar stove.[5]

There does however, appear to be references of solar cooking written in ancient Vedic texts:

Sun cooked food improves cellular health and longevity of life. It strengthens health and mind removes three major physical disorders to do with digestion, blood and respiratory system, balances inner body temperatures, life, glows aura and keeps various obstacles away. Sun cooked food has great medicinal value. It enhances intellect, genius. : ' Rig Veda'. - Reference from the princeindia.org website. See: PRINCE

See also

Resources

Possible funders of solar cooking projects in India

Reports

Articles in the media

Audio and Video

400px|left

June 2006: Video showing the Smokeless Village where all inhabitants cook with solar cookers

left|425px Deepak Gadhia's efforts promoting various solar powered projects.

External links

Indian solar cooking blogs

India contacts

Non-governmental organizations (NGOs)

Government agencies

      Educational institutions

      Individuals

      Manufacturers and vendors

      See also

      References

      Gallery of manufacturers and vendors

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