This page is based clearly on the idea that solar cooking techniques need not be disseminated outside developing countries. I believe this premise overlooks the important goal of popularising the technology in all countries, including in Europe and North America. There is no reason to neglect these markets, both for the direct gains to the environment in promoting use of renewable energy from the sun, and to develop the markets for solar cooking in general.

North American and European households can generally afford to invest in solar cooking without the hesitation that might naturally occur in a household in a developing country with only scarce resources. The decision to try solar cooking is relatively a much smaller risk for an affluent family, as a negative outcome will not significantly affect prosperity of the household.

Indeed the solar cooking sector is new, has much to learn, and prosperous countries may make a better, more flexible, creative laboratory than developing countries where the risk of a failed cooking method have such immediate and profound consequences for a poor family - risks that would not befall a family in a high income country.

By way of analogy, many developing countries have improved their telecommuncations capacity by studying what works in the west and adopting refined solutions at a late stage of development instead of moving through all the intermediate steps. For example; moving to the use of cell phones directly instead of developing a ubiquitous wired communications network first.

There is no reason why the adoption of solar cooking could not develop along the same pattern.

With that in mind, it would be important to examine cultural variables that affect the dissemination of solar cooking within Europe and North America. In wealthy markets focussed on consumer choice, existing solar cooking implementations are not appropriate. Within the solar cooking sector, all of the focus is currently placed on economical construction techniques for markets with limited access to resources, while the North American or European consumer prefers convenience and aesthetics. No thought is given to the appearance or integration of a solar cooker into the sort of kitchen that western consumers enjoy, and the technology is thus rejected out-of-hand as a fringe endeavour.

Focus on design, beauty, luxury and convenience: Solar cooking can easily be re-imagined with these parameters in mind, and the resulting revised technologies, supported by modern consumer marketing methods, would likely win a much much greater market share. Again this would yield direct benefits in high-energy-use markets of North America and Europe, greatly expand awareness of the technology, and provide a platform for development and dissemination of the technology worldwide.

I think cultural variables and appropriate technology, need to be considered in view of what is appropriate in a European / North American / G8 context.

I hope this article will be updated to explore some of these ideas.

-H. Jones.

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