Last updated: 19 June 2018
Sustainable Rural Life is the new face of the HotPot Initiative that was launched by the Mexican Fund for the Conservation of Nature in 2003. Delivering HotPots and training communities how to use them, served as an effective introduction to clean cooking and provided an alternative to burning firewood in indigenous communities around the country. Approximately 20,000 HotPots have been distributed in sixteen states of Mexico. Another 464 were purchased by MFCN and delivered by local partners, and 445 improved combustion stoves of various types were also delivered between March and September 2012. At SRL they believe that using the HotPot, together with fuel-efficient cookstoves, is the best option to improve cooking habits in Mexico. Read more at Sustainable Rural Life: Update 2012.
Most significant projects
- The HotPot solar cooker introduction in Mexico - Solar Household Energy (SHE), spent several years developing a solar panel cooker called the HotPot, a variation on Solar Cookers International's cooker, the CooKit. In 2003 SHE received a grant from the World Bank’s Development Marketplace to mount a HotPot promotion project in Mexico working with the Mexican nature conservancy, Fondo Mexicano para la Conservacion de la Naturaleza (FMCN). By July 2004, 2,000 HotPots had been manufactured and trucked to eight local conservation NGOs that had agreed to participate in the HotPot distribution initiative. Solar Household Energy may be the global leader in promoting solar cooking. The history of the HotPot project. Lesson learned: Quality solar cookers are appreciated. However, demand may not be able to be met without significant financial support.
- See other Most significant solar cooking projects worldwide.
- May 2018: Bernardo López Sosa is originally from the indigenous community of Naranja de Tapia in Michoacán. At 28 years of age, he is pursuing a doctorate in science in metallurgy and materials science at the Institute of Metallurgy and Materials Research of the Michoacán University of San Nicolás de Hidalgo. He studies how the advance of science does not always consider social implications. He participates with fellow innovators as a founding member of the Grupo Multidisciplinario de Investigadores Indígenas para el Desarrollo de Tecnologías Sustentables The group is experimenting with various thermal retention coatings for solar cookers, and providing demonstrations in rural communities. Read more at: Bernardo López Sosa, tecnologías para las comunidades indígenas - (English version)
- September 2017: Solar Household Energy has partnered with Lorena Harp to provide solar cookers to earthquake victims in Mexico, as well as launch a new solar cooker social enterprise in the country. The partnership will work to "carry out market research, optimize the Haines Solar Cooker and its pot for adoption by rural women, train solar cooking ambassadors, and help establish Lorena Harp's business, with the end goal of becoming financially sustainable." More information...
- September 2017: Researchers working at the Instituto de Energías Renovables in Mexico have developed a version of a solar box cooker offering an increased solar tracking positioning capability. This feature decreases the number of times the cooker needs to be reoriented to maintain maximum exposure to the sun. More information... - (English version)
- March 2017: Juana María Hernández Jarquín conducted a workshop for the Red Mujeres en Energía Renovable y Eficiencia Energética in Mexico City.
- April 2016: Kathy Dahl-Bredine reports: "We were finally able to do that solar workshop we had planned for last November [near Oaxaca]. It was a phenomenal success. We had demonstrations of six different models of cookers. We're going to meet again to build cookers, which will include different ones of those models. Everyone wants them and wants to invite more people." Read more in the March-April 2016 newsletter.
- January 2015: Assessing lasting impacts of HotPot projects - Solar Household Energy is revitalizing relationships with previous partner the Mexican Fund for the Conservation of Nature (Fondo Mexicano para la Conservación de la Naturaleza, or FMCN) to assess long-term project outcomes. FMCN has distributed over 25,000 HotPots in Mexico. Quantifying the lasting impacts of these projects will prove HotPot long-term adoption and durability, demonstrating that the HotPot is a viable clean cooking solution. Read more: Assessing lasting impacts of HotPot projects in Mexico - SHE
- August 2014: TrinySol built and installed a series of reflectors in El Sauz, Mexico. The cookers are either 10-square-meters or 16-square-meters and can cook for up to 60 people, said Gregor Schäpers. More info...
Mexico has a rich solar cooking history, with several projects successfully implemnted since the early 2000's. Below is a summary of some of these programs.
Girl Scout leader Barby Pulliam conducted training programs for Girl Scout leaders and other representatives of NGOs in a number of cities and towns. Rotarian Wilfred Pimentel has also conducted a number of pilot programs in various cities. In some of those places, Rotary and Girl Scouts joined forces. A number of missions and other religious groups have promoted solar cookers in various parts of the country. One example is the Mission Mazahua, in Atlacomulco, which produced around 600 cookers. Several university faculty members have conducted research on cooking devices as well.
A large project originated in an unusual venue, a nature conservancy area, the Sierra Gorda Nature Reserve. In the spring of 2003, Louise Meyer of Solar Household Energy, Inc. (SHE, Inc.) conducted a training program to test user acceptance of a then new solar cooker called the HotPot. The device uses a modified CooKit design, initially of a plastic material then mental, as opposed to the cardboard of the CooKit. A black pot is enclosed within a tempered glass "greenhouse" instead of the plastic bag used in the original CooKit.
Within the confines of nature conservancies in Mexico, as elsewhere, trees cannot be cut down for use as fuelwood. Households living within the area thus must find other sources of energy for cooking. Therefore, the managing group of the Sierra Gorda site, the Grupo Ecológico Sierra Gorda, was delighted to explore the potential of solar cooking. The town of Purisima and a village, Mavi, were selected as the site for the initial training program. The Director of the Mexican Fund for the Conservation of Nature, Lorenzo Rosenzweig, partnered with SHE, Inc. to plan and implement this project.
Ms. Meyer traveled to Mexico, and conducted training for Sierra Gorda women, who were given HotPots and trained in their use over a two-day period. After the training, Ms. Meyer visited the women in their homes as follow-up for days of further training and coaching. The women were all interested in what others were cooking, and eventually a throng of cooks accompanied Ms. Meyer on most visits, enhancing the group learning substantially. Two women from the group were chosen for additional training in "how to teach others". The new trainers were again visited and coached in the art of training.
This pilot project, growing into a large-scale follow-up in other areas of Mexico, was among the winners of the 2003 Development Marketplace competition, an annual event held by the World Bank.
Sun Ovens International reports promoting both Sun Ovens and Scheffler-type parabolics in Cuernavaca and Mexico City. The parabolic portion of this work, conducted by the Grupo Scheffler de México installs large commercial and institutional cooking and water heating. The first institutional solar kitchen of Mexico (6 Schefflers reflectors of 10m2) was built in the Hidalgo State by Gregor Schäpers.
Climate and cultureMexico is the most populous Spanish-speaking country with over 100 million inhabitants. One-quarter of the population lives in Mexico City, the world’s largest city. Rapid population growth and industrialization in Mexico over the last few decades have put an enormous strain on the environment, economy and on individual health.
Less than 10% of Mexico’s native tropical rainforests remain today. These rainforests are limited to southeastern Mexico and are most threatened by subsistence activities—especially fuel wood collection. Fuel wood supplies 69% of the energy consumption in rural areas, particularly for cooking. As the supply of wood decreases it negatively impacts the lives of the people who depend on it.
For instance, women and girls are responsible for procuring fuel wood and they must travel farther from home as wood becomes more scarce. This task demands many hours and minimizes opportunities to attend school and participate in income-generating activities. In other areas, it is no longer feasible to gather wood. Families in these areas can spend 15% to 37% of their income on wood and/or gas.
In addition to the negative environmental and economic impact of fuel wood dependence, women and children suffer from health problems caused by cooking inside small, enclosed kitchens that often lack windows or other ventilation. They inhale toxic smoke for many hours each day, which can lead to pneumonia and respiratory infections, the biggest killers of children under five years of age.
After having done many solar workshops, I've always wanted to know the extent to which families are really continuing to use it. And after checking around a good deal, it seems to me that the technology is not really taking hold enough to change overall cooking habits. The participants are always very excited about the technique during the workshops, and I give them "homework" tasks afterward, which include teaching others to solar cook, et al. But in general they do not seem to be continuing it long term, and I've tried to analyze the reasons:
- Most of the solar cookers we use, including models being commercially made and sold, as well as designs we make on our own, are too small for an average family in indigenous or traditional communities. Generally extended families live and eat together, an average of 6-10 persons. The standard black enamel pots that we generally use hold enough for only a small family. The main exception to that is the "family size" version of the Ulog. We have made those, but they tend to be very heavy and a little unwieldy, so that's a drawback we haven't solved yet.
- In our own village and many of the others in our mountain area, there is plenty of firewood, so there isn't the urgency for fuel that exists in many places. I've often thought that some of those places in Africa, where apparently the Cook-it has really caught on well, one of the main differences may be the lack of adequate fuel, where people have to either walk long distances in unsafe areas, or spend part of their scarce food money to buy wood or other fuel.
- Also, something that is no doubt hard to fathom for all of us who were brought up on gas stove cooking, for people in this culture, there is something about the smell of wood smoke and a fire going that feels homey, familiar, and good to folks -- the warm and familiar sense of family, etc. Sometimes people even say that the food tastes better when cooked over a wood fire. (Although many folks also have said that solar cooked food has more flavor! I've heard that a number of times as a reason for not liking gas stoves. A few people around here even have small gas stoves, but they generally don't use them much - perhaps only when there's an emergency to get a fire quickly.
Besides the various types of simple solar cookers that I make with groups: Cookit, Windshield Shade Solar Cooker model, and others, my husband, Phil, and the teenagers he has trained in carpentry, make the Ulog box cookers. We're searching for a way to make a good reflector for that model, also a better version of the larger, family--size one. I keep thinking we need to find a way to make something as efficient as the Sun Oven. My son gave me one, and I use it nearly all the time. None of the ones we've ever made can measure up to that efficiency. And here in these mountains, known as "país de las nubes" (land of clouds), it is often at least partially cloudy, so a very efficient cooker would encourage folks to use it more. We need to find a way to make good extra reflectors. As models to use with the local people, we are committed to using only cookers that we can make locally, so as to be sustainable.
- Find a Kiva microfinance partner in Mexico.
- Fundacion Realidad A.C (FRAC), a partner of World Vision International
- Fundación para la Vivienda Progresiva (FVP), a partner of CHF International
- August 2006: Nogales, US-Mexico Clean Air Report Excerpts August 2006 - Report for the Thermal Construction and Alternative Heating and Cooking Technologies Project that outlines research conducted to assess the air quality along the US-Mexico border. Solar Household Energy collaborated with the research team to introduce solar cookers into the cities being studied.
- January 2017: Production of Solar Processed Food in Search Alternatives in Nutrition, Conversation, Diversification and Valorisation of Resources in Oaxaca Mexico - Victoria Aguilera Velazco
- January 2017: If No One Copies it or Tries to Steal It—Is It Worth Nothing? State of the Art of Small Automatic Parabolic Trough Steam Systems for Food Processing - Michael Götz
- November 2014: Desarrollo, implementación y apropiación de cocinas solares para el medio rural de Michoacán - Una alternativa energética para la conservación de recursos forestales maderables - M. González-Avilés, Bernardo López-Sosa, et al
- February 2013: Kit Para Cocina Solar - Xuni
- January 2009: CHOCOSOL- An Experience of Producing Joy Without Generating Malice - Aline Desentis Otálora
- January 2009: Agave syrup production – a sweet tradition goes solar - Gregor Schäpers
- July 2006: Una entrevista con Mariana Díaz del Fundo Mexicano para la Conservación de la Naturaleza (FMCN) - (English version)
- August 2006: Report on the use of HotPot solar cookers to reduce air pollution from cooking fires in northern Mexico
- NEW: Cocina Solar, alternativa energética sustentable Modelo matemático y construcción física - Bernardo Sosa
- NEW: Cocinas solares: alternativa energética para el medio rural Desarrollo, implementación y apropiación - Bernardo Sosa
Articles in the media
- May 2018: Bernardo López Sosa, tecnologías para las comunidades indígenas - (English version) - Conacyt
- July 2017: Solar cooking, sustainable living - The Taos News
- Summer 2005: Mexican Straw Weavers in Mixteca Region of Oaxaca Learn to Solar Cook - Weave A Real Peace Newsletter
Audio and video
- May 2013:
- June 2012:
- February 2010:
- February 2009:
Grupos de discusión Facebook
- Cocineros Solares
- Cocinillas Solares Sin Fronteras
- Cocina Solar Mexico
- Solar Renewable Energy in Costa Rica
- Solar Show Cooking (Spain)
- Mexicosol - (English version)
- Trinysol - (English version)
- Cocina Solar