Renewable Transformation Challenge 2019 - Winner announced!

Solar-powered home cooking system, designed to replace traditional fuel-based systems, wins 2nd Elsevier-ISES Renewable Transformation Challenge

US-based Team SUNSPOT recognized for award that honors innovation in renewable energy


London, August 19, 2019 - Elsevier, a global information analytics business specializing in science and health, and the International Solar Energy Society (ISES), are pleased to announce that “Sunspot Solar Electric Cooking” by Team SUNSPOT is the winner of the second Renewable Transformation Challenge.

The Renewable Transformation Challenge, launched in 2017, aims to honor and showcase outstanding work that actively supports the transformation to a world powered by renewable energy, and has the potential to widen access to energy – particularly in developing countries. The Challenge was open to individuals and organizations in both not-for-profit and commercial sectors worldwide.

“Team SUNSPOT is honored to be selected as the winner of this year’s Renewable Transformation Challenge,” said Douglas Danley, Team Leader and Co-founder of SUNSPOT. “The combination of innovative micro-financing, efficient consumer-grade electric cooking appliances and low-cost photo-voltaic modules have made it possible to introduce the solar-electric cooking system, which can compete with traditional biomass stoves.”

Paul Carroll and Douglas Danley (right) stand alongside the Sunspot Solar Electric Cooker. Danley, Carroll and team members Teresa Danley, and Vladimir Brunstein (not pictured) were this year’s winners of the Elsevier-ISES Renewable Transformation Challenge (Credit: Douglas Danley).


The scale of the problem that Danley and his team set out to solve is massive. According to the World Bank, three billion people across the world are still using basic biomass fuels (like wood or dung) for cooking1. This has a significant negative impact on the individuals’ health, their environment, and their social and economic potential. Reducing the use of biofuels around the world will mean less deforestation and that time currently used to collect or create fuel, could be better spent on more socially beneficial activities like education and commerce.

Danley explained: “Lowered carbon emissions will mean less pressure on local forests, but most importantly, the elimination of smoke from traditional fires and other quality-of-life improvements for the women and children most directly involved in cooking. We look forward to working with partners around the world to scale this technology and help achieve the RTC goal of moving the world ‘toward an energy system supplied entirely by renewable energy sources.’”

“A key to achieving 100% renewable energy and a decarbonized energy system is to accelerate the electrification of all of our end use energy needs,” said Dr. David Renné, President of ISES. “The electrification of traditional cooking methods in developing countries, which generally rely on the unsustainable use of biomass fuels, will be a significant game changer, and will also help accelerate energy access to all off-grid populations so they can meet their other end use energy needs as well.”

Over 100 entries were received for the biennial Challenge. They were scored in terms of applicability, impact, sustainability and scalability in two stages: first by the Juror Panel; and then by the Elsevier-ISES Awards Committee who selected the final winner from the ten shortlisted candidates.

“It was great to see so much great work being done in these proposals from across the world, from Uganda to Portugal, the USA to India, and beyond,” said Adam Fraser, Senior Publisher for Elsevier’s renewable and sustainable energy journals. “By electrifying home cooking systems using solar energy in a cost-effective way, Team SUNSPOT can steadily begin to reduce the immediate adverse effects of polluting cooking methods and make a contribution towards our global efforts to combat climate change.

“Projects such as these are what Elsevier and ISES set out to support: learning from this type of research and taking that out into communities to deliver real impact.”

Team SUNSPOT will receive a monetary prize of €20,000 EUR, one ISES Gold membership, and one free registration to the Solar World Congress 2019 taking place in Santiago, Chile, November 4 – 7, where they will be presented with the Award at the conference dinner on November 6, 2019.

Read more about the work being done by Team SUNSPOT, and other groups driving progress to a world powered by renewable energy and accessible energy for all here.

Notes to editors
The submissions were evaluated by a panel of judges:

  • Philip Earis, Editor-in-Chief, Joule, Cell Press
  • Prof. Yogi Goswami, Direct of the Clean Energy Research Center at the University of South Florida, and Editor-in-Chief, Solar Energy
  • Dr. Lawrence L. Kazmerski, University of Colorado Boulder,
  • Christine Lins, Executive Direct, Global Women’s Network for the Energy Transition
  • Monica Oliphant, Past President, International Solar Energy Society
  • Dr. David Renné, President, International Solar Energy Society
  • Prof. Eicke Weber, Vice President, International Solar Energy Society, and Berkeley Educations Alliance for Research in Singapore

The awards ceremony will take place on November 6, 2019 during the Solar World Congress 2019 in Santiago, Chile. Reporters wishing to attend the ceremony may contact David Renné at challenge [at]

1 Sourced from: Sustainable Energy for All 2015: Progress Toward Sustainable Energy". Washington, DC: World Bank. © World Bank; International Energy Agency, 2015.

About the International Solar Energy Society (ISES)
The International Solar Energy Society (ISES) has its roots dating back to 1954, when its predecessor, the Association for the Advancement of Solar Energy was formed to promote the development and commercialization of solar energy. Today ISES is a non-profit, UN accredited organization with individual and corporate members from all over the world, and with a mission for the world to meet 100 percent of its energy needs by renewables, used efficiently and wisely, and to ensure energy access for all people. Through its publications, including its flagship scientific journal Solar Energy , and through its free online webinars, monthly newsletters, and conferences, including the bi-annual Solar World Congress, ISES provides a global forum for the R&D and advancement of solar and renewable energy. For more about ISES, go to

About Elsevier
Elsevier is a global information analytics business that helps scientists and clinicians to find new answers, reshape human knowledge, and tackle the most urgent human crises. For 140 years, we have partnered with the research world to curate and verify scientific knowledge. Today, we’re committed to bringing that rigor to a new generation of platforms. Elsevier provides digital solutions and tools in the areas of strategic research management, R&D performance, clinical decision support, and professional education; including ScienceDirect, Scopus, SciVal, ClinicalKey and Sherpath. Elsevier publishes over 2,500 digitized journals, including The Lancet and Cell, 39,000 e-book titles and many iconic reference works, including Gray's Anatomy. Elsevier is part of RELX, a global provider of information-based analytics and decision tools for professional and business customers.

Media contact
David Renné, ISES President
International Solar Energy Society
+49 76 145 90 60
challenge [at]

Jonathan Davis, Communications Officer
+31 20 485 27 19
newsroom [at]