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Institutional solar cooking

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Revision as of 17:05, October 26, 2012 by Tom Sponheim (Talk | contribs)


Institutional solar cooking involves cooking for groups with an single integrated solar cooking system, rather than simply using many smaller solar cookers. It may be designed for communal village use, a restaurant or bakery, or large scale production facilities preparing many thousands of meals per day. The cooking equipment employs basic solar cooking principles, and takes advantage of economy of scale.

Solar cooking with steam heat

Tirupati solar installation
Rooftop Scheffler reflectors used to create steam for cooking at the Tirupati shrine in India
Paul HedrickAdded by Paul Hedrick
Auroville Solar Bowl 2
Solar Bowl on the roof of the Auroville Solar Kitchen.
Paul HedrickAdded by Paul Hedrick

Some of the most familiar examples of institutional cooking have used Scheffler reflector technology to heat water to create steam for cooking. Installations at religous shrines, such as those at Tirupati and Shirdi in India, illustrate the prodigious cooking capability of this approach. The system at the Shirdi shrine uses seventy-three parabolic reflectors mounted on the kitchen rooftop, and prepares food for 20,000 devotees daily. It is in use over 300 days per year. The remaining days it uses the back-up wood fired boiler, which had been their sole source for cooking until January 2011.

Another example of concentrating parabolic reflector techinology is used at the Auroville Solar Kitchen, a collective kitchen for the Auroville community, an "experimental" township in the Viluppuram district, in Tamil Nadu, India. It serves lunch daily in its dining hall, and sends lunches out to schools and to individuals as well. It derives its name from the large Auroville Solar Bowlon its roof, which provides the steam for cooking on all the sunny days of the year. Back-up steam, if needed, is provided by a diesel fired boiler.

Solar cooking directly with sunlight

Scheffler Kitchen
Egypt’s first Scheffler Community Kitchen at El Sherouk Farm near Alexandria using sunlight directly.
Tom SponheimAdded by Tom Sponheim

Institutional, or community systems, can also use large Parabolic solar reflectors to focus sunlight directly onto a cooking chamber, often with an integral grilling surface used with the Scheffler Community Kitchen.

A smaller scale example of a parabolic community solar cooker is the Community Solar Cooker 3 SQ MT designed by Ajay Chandak.
Scheffler-idea1
Scheffler reflector principles
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Paul Munsen Flickr
Paul Munsen demonstrates a Villiager Sun Oven.
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Business 2.0 VSO picture
Villager Sun Oven
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A solar box cooker approach, scaled for community use, has been created by Sun Ovens International, and is called the Villager Sun Oven. Villager Sun Ovens are currently in use in fifty-five countries around the world. The primary use is for large scale feeding or for bakeries. The oven is capable of reaching temperatures in excess of 260°C (500°F).

There is an optional 150 piece Sun-Bakery package, enabling the creation of a self-sustaining micro-enterprise to turn out fresh baked goods, while creating jobs and eliminating the cost of fuel. Some schools use a Villager oven to cook lunches and then bake bread in the afternoon. The bread is sold to help generate income.

Recent news and developments

  • March 2012: 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

Audio and video

Shirdi - Solar Cooking for 100,000 - CNNShirdi - Solar Cooking for 100,000 - CNN.flv(02:01)
Deepak Gadhia explains the workings of the Scheffler solar cooking kitchen at Shirdi in Maharashtra, India.
Paul HedrickAdded by Paul Hedrick


Articles about institutional cookers

See also

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