Last updated: January 17, 2016
Climates that are mostly dry and sunny
- Solar cooking is most useful where there are a few hours midday at least six months of the year without rain, clouds, fog or dust storms.
Deforestation and fuel scarcities
- Cost: Families spend a large part of their income for cooking fuels that were once free or very cheap.
- Labor: Many hours are spent gathering fuel from ever-longer distances. Children miss school to gather fuel.
- Nutrition: Diets altered by insufficient cooking fuel cause malnutrition. For example, families reduce cooking to one meal a day or less, or barter food for fuel, or turn away from nutritious foods like beans, which require long hours of cooking.
Health and safety problems
- Diseases: Widespread intestinal diseases cause child deaths from unsafe drinking water. Many suffer lung and eye diseases from smoke.
- Injuries: Injuries from carrying heavy loads of fuel are common. Children suffer serious burns from open fires.
Other factors favoring solar cooking
- Cooking is already done outside and there are sunny areas where the cooker(s) and food can safely be left unattended.
- Black cooking pots are already commonly used or aluminum pots with black paint.
- Main meal(s) are at noon or later in the day or soon after sunset. See Heat storage.
- Fires require constant attention to prevent food from burning.
- Fires create soot requiring a lot of pot scrubbing and add heat to cooking areas on hot days
Factors that accelerate spread and use
- Training and ongoing follow-up is essential.
- Transportation and communication systems are adequate to distribute supplies (it is easier to promote in cities and towns than remote rural villages).
- A strong retailer distribution network helps.
- Political stability is sufficient to allow people to travel and exchange information.
- Gender roles allow/encourage women to participate in community groups and have some say in family financial matters.
- Few families are employed in wood gathering, making charcoal or selling other fuels.
- Public policies encourage – or at least not impede – sustainable technologies like solar cooking.
- Local businesses or women’s organizations want to promote solar cooking and endorse local efforts.
- Venture capital is available. This can be difficult as many funders expect dramatic results in unreasonably short times of two to five years. Costs of start-up and spreading public awareness are often high in new areas.
The 25 countries with the greatest potential
Solar Cookers International has determined that these 25 countries have the most solar cooking potential:
- Main article: The 25 countries with the most solar cooking potential.