June 2011 The team of the Association pour le Développement de l'Energie Solaire (ADES) in Madagascar gathered last Saturday in Baar to unpack a novel solar cooker at the anniversary celebration of ADES. The solar box cooker comes with built-in photo cells. "This will make a sensation," says Regula Ochsner, founder of ADES. Especially valuable, is that the know-how transfer has gone the other way around for once: Madagascar supplies to Europe. Regula was enthusiastic but also a bit scared before the expected rush to the newest generation of solar cookers: "Can we handle the logistics as well?" This is the first time the latest prototype solar cooker has been presented to the general public, and it has happened in Madagascar. The work of ADES and its founder, Regula Ochsner from Ottenbach have received numerous awards, including the Swiss Solar Prize (2007), the Doron Prize (2008) or the price of the Brandenberger Foundation. The 10-year anniversary provides an opportunity to look back. Renewable energies point to the future. The event is even more poignant this year, in light of the tragedy in Fukushima. The non-profit organization has been committed to ADES in Madagascar for the past ten years to preserve the unique flora and fauna and promote sustainable cooking methods. In 2001, under the scorching sun in Madagascar, and under a party tent, the first solar cooker assembled. Today ADES employs around a staff of sixty. Countries with the use of solar and energy-saving stoves have already saved around 30,000 hectares of dry forest from logging. ADES first introduced solar cookers in order to reduce the deforestation of the dry forests, but now, in conjunction with solar cookers use, energy-efficient stoves have helped reduce wood consumption by up to 65%. See photos of the celebration at: ADES 10-year anniversary celebration, 25th June 2011
December 2010: Carbon offset foundation partners with solar cooking project in Madagascar. The Swiss non-profit foundation, MyClimate, is a leader when it comes to voluntary carbon offsetting measures. They have recently partnered with Association pour le Développement de l’Energie Solaire (ADES), another Swiss non-profit, that manufactures and distributes solar cookers in Madagascar. The CO2 offsetting mechanism offered by MyClimate will enable the expansion of the initial ADES project, and growth into other provinces of Madagascar. Their projection over the next seven years, is to distribute up to 44,000 solar cookers and 8,600 energy-efficient supplementary cookers to realize a reduction of up to 190,000 tons of CO2.
August 2010:John Root, an energy services advisor, conducted a workshop in Madagascar in a well-documented slide series of the workshop showing each phase of the cooker construction. Solar cooker workshop
April 2010: Since 2001, the Association pour le Développement de l’Energie Solaire (ADES) has been making and selling solar cookers in the southwestern part of Madagascar, providing much-needed cooking alternatives as well as employment for over 30 local carpenters and trainers. In 2003, ADES built its first permanent solar cooker construction workshop in Tulear. A second construction workshop was established in Ejeda in 2006, followed in 2008 by a workshop in Morondava. Each of these regional centers also has sales and demonstration offices. Future plans include development of a fourth regional center in Anosy or Antandroy, and the creation of two or three local branches within each region to reduce transportation distances and increase outreach capacity. According to ADES, southwestern Madagascar experiences about 330 sunny days per year and is a nearly ideal region for solar cooking. However, per capita income in Madagascar is only about $400 per year, making it difficult for families to afford solar cookers and spend their meager income on a technology they are not familiar with. Rising firewood and charcoal costs over the past few years are making solar cookers comparatively more affordable, but still out of reach for many. Subsidies have mostly come from donors in Switzerland and a handful of awards. The Madagascar government has provided some additional support, partnering with ADES to promote renewable energy in Tulear. Hand-crafted wooden solar box cookers, produced locally for upwards of $200 each, are sold at a subsidized price of just over $20. These cookers reach temperatures of up to 150°C, and are commonly used to cook rice, various root vegetables, meat, fish, bread, and cakes. Metal parabolic solar cookers are assembled locally for about $160 each, from aluminum and steel parts made by another local organization at an already subsidized price. The parabolic cookers are then sold at a subsidized price of about $50. These cookers reach even higher temperatures, but require stirring of food and more frequent adjustments to track the sun. They are particularly useful for frying, and can work in a complementary fashion with solar box cookers. Both cookers come with 7-year warranties. By the end of 2009, ADES had sold 4,640 solar cookers. It hopes to ramp up its outreach and sales capacity with funding from carbon credit offsets.
July 2007: This past March in Paris, France, Regula Ochsner received the Yves Rocher Foundation’s international "Women of the Earth" award for her work promoting solar cookers in Madagascar. The award honors women who lead actions benefiting nature and humanity. The award ceremony was attended by Madame Nelly Olin, French Minister for the Environment. In 2001 Ochsner founded the Association pour le Développement de l'Energie Solaire Suisse – Madagascar (ADES) to help combat rampant deforestation. Ochsner lived in Madagascar in the early 1970s and was shocked, when she visited in the late 1990s, at the amount of deforestation that had occurred in a period of just 25 years. (Madagascan families use about 100 kilograms of charcoal on a monthly basis, amounting to one-sixth of an average monthly salary.) Ochsner researched cooking alternatives that would reduce firewood and charcoal use, and discovered solar cookers. Madagascar, especially in the south of the country, has close to ideal conditions for the use of solar energy. Ochsner initiated production of solar box cookers by local carpenters in 2001, followed by distribution and sales. In 2003 ADES built a more permanent carpentry workshop in Tulear and another in Ejeda in 2006. ADES currently provides employment to 13 carpenters and trainers. The teaching of the population to use solar cookers is an important part of ADES’ work. Regular demonstrations on how to use the solar cooker take place. The interest level of the population is very high. Over 1500 solar cookers have been sold thus far. A survey of the usage of the solar cookers conducted by two German students in 2004 showed that 75% of the solar cookers were used regularly. Ochsner plans to invest the prize money of 10000 euro in a further solar cooker pilot project in the south of Madagascar. Future plans include development of regional centers in Morondava and Fort Dauphin.