Assumptions of Solar Electric Cooking

Some have asked us what assumptions have guided our beliefs in Solar electric cooking. The following are the assumptions we are making when advocating research into, and strategic deployment of Solar Electric Cooking (SEC). Some of these assumptions will be further elaborated in other posts, along with support references. More information is also available in our concept note. Any comments or suggestions are welcomed!  That’s the point of a blog 🙂

Assumptions

  1. 1.5 Billion spend more than $10 a month real cash on Wood/Charcoal or Kerosene.
  2. About 0.5 Billion spend more than $25 per month
  3. Solar Electric Cooking (SEC) would not, indeed need not, replace ALL cooking needs for any one household, but make substantial savings
  4. The cooking energy needs of a person are said to be an effective 2MJ per day (for electric).
  5. We assume that the 2MJ figure often cited in regards to energy requirements for cooking is not quite correct and is not an absolute.
  6. A family of 5 at 2MJ per person implies 1kW cooking for 2.5 hours – this doesn’t feel right.
  7. Many families cook one meal a day, in the evening
  8. Most meals for a family of five can be cooked in one hour on a 1kW hob
  9. SEC Lite, as a 500W system, aimed at 1 hour cooking, would have a market with smaller families and urban locations
  10. A 500W system can boil 2.5 litres in 25 minutes from room temperature.
  11. The key technical challenge is around the lifetime of the battery.
  12. A correctly sized battery could last 2 years with rapid discharging for one hour every night.
  13. Such a battery would not be prohibitively expensive, nor physically too large.
  14. The key policy and practice stakeholder challenge is about mindsets
  15. Those working on wood and charcoal stoves have had difficulty convincing people to invest $10 to $20 in an improved stove – so the idea of a family investing $200 in a system seems to them beyond practical socio-cultural reality.
  16. Those working with Solar panels had difficulty rolling out lighting systems pre LED, and perceive LED low consumption as the key that has unlocked their work – so the idea that a system could supply 1kW for cooking seems out of reach.
  17. We assume that people have not revisited the cost of the system to consider solar panel cooking in the last 2 years.
  18. Everyone seems to rely on Hankins documentation of African solar insolation which suggests there is only 6 hours sunshine?
  19. At 6 hours, the ratio of hours generating to hours consumption for a lighting system running for 4 hours in the evening is 3:2
  20. At 6 hours, the ratio of hours generating to hours consumption for a SEC system running for 1 hour in the evening is 6:1 – with implications for sizing of panels and resultant cost, giving cooking an cost ‘advantage’, which many solar lighting enthusiasts do not have at forefront of mind.
  21. Solar has come down in price dramatically in the last 3 years, and will continue in a downward trend.
  22. The tipping point for this system may not be quite yet, but by 2020 a cooking system could be installed at profit at $200.
  23. SEC at scale might make a positive difference to the local environment, retaining tress which otherwise might have become fuel
  24. SEC in refugee camps would make a very big difference to local environment.
  25. SEC at scale might have a negative effect on the local economy – displacing charcoal makers, wood sellers, stove makers, etc.
  26. SEC at scale might have a negative effect on the balance of payments – requiring foreign capital for imported equipment while wood and charcoal are a part of the local economy.
  27. SEC at scale might have a positive effect on the global environment, reducing carbon consumption.
  28. SEC has positive health benefits reducing respiratory problems.

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