ISES Webinar - Solar Cooking Around the World: Challenges, Solutions and Best Practices
This webinar focused on current examples of the use of solar cookers and on recent technical advances in this technology. The speakers presented a comparative analysis of the development of solar cooking technology in different latitudes with various cultural parameters and energy situations.
About this webinar
Many parts of the world have significant solar thermal energy potential. Currently this power source is primarily used, for example, in a few large, desert solar arrays to generate electricity and in rooftop solar hot water systems. Despite the fact that hundreds of millions of families in the developing world could cook their meals with solar thermal energy more than three hundred days per year, there is still today very limited use of this power source for domestic and industrial cooking scale applications.
As demonstrated by current projects in Chile and India, the use of solar thermal cooking devices in canteens at schools and companies as well as in restaurants is an attractive, sustainable and rational use of solar energy. Solar cooking is a sustainable alternative to the conventional cooking process since variations on this technology can bake and roast foods slowly like an oven, or boil and fry foods as fast as a gas burner.
There are already non-profits and small businesses operating in several parts of the world with the goal of disseminating solar cooking technology on a large scale. From 2005 - 2009 ISES implemented the International Solar Food Processing & Conservation Project (Solar Food) to address the use and development of solar food processing and conservation technologies. The project culminated with the first International Solar Food Processing Conference in Indore, India in January 2009 where projects from around the world were presented, and the challenges and solutions for advancing solar food processing technologies discussed. Learn more about the project and the network that was created out of it here.
In 1987, the international organization Solar Cookers International (SCI) was created to promote the dissemination of the solar cooking process, focusing the economic, social and environmental benefits of its use (www.solarcooking.org).
Despite the increase in research on the use of solar thermal energy and its application for water distillation, water heating and the drying and cooking of food, solar cookers are still known and used by a relatively small number of the 2.5 billion people on our planet who cook over open fires. Most of the solar thermal devices currently in use are manufactured and distributed through assistance projects in low-income communities and in regions where the available supply of wood for cooking is rapidly vanishing. Individuals in developed countries, who want to promote the use of more sustainable cooking, solutions are also using solar cookers in increasing numbers.
Despite significant education and training activities carried out by a large number of solar cooking advocates in sunny European nations like in Portugal and Spain, the use of solar cookers is not yet a common practice for replacing the use of gas and electricity for cooking in these countries.