We believe as many as 2 billion people across the developing world would stand to benefit from solar electric cooking. Who are these people? In simple terms, African and Asian dwellings can be divided into the following categories, each presenting a potential demand for a solar electric cooking solution:
- Urban dwellers in formal settlements. Many of these households may have access to electric utility. Their challenge for cooking is often that the electric supply is sometimes unreliable (with load shedding), and costly. There may be a small market within these households.
- Urban dwellers in informal settlements. These are a potentially strong market segment. Utilities often do not connect to informal settlements to avoid legitimising them. Illegal connections are often made but these are chaotic, ‘weak’ and hazardous. They are rarely strong enough to enable cooking, plus the tolerance of the utility to illegal connections is often based the fact that they consume relatively little power – if everyone started cooking, the utilities might invest more in enforcing their legal rights. The product would provide a good fit, if it were competitive with the higher grade fuels commonly used in urban areas, and it would fit urban working patterns where people eat in the evening.
- Peri-urban conurbations. Surrounding most towns is an area where connections to utilities are not really cost effective, and households need to buy solid fuels (in the absence of ‘free’ wood resources).
- Rural populations. The system is unlikely to get traction where collection of wood is relatively easy and free. Edges of forests are probably not the best market. However, in locations where fuelwood is scarce and it takes a significant amount of time to collect it, there may be a market for the system. Recent trends show access to fuelwood is decreasing in areas where it was previously abundant, and market prices are on the rise. Rural South-East and South Asia could be particularly strong markets.
- Internal displaced and Refugees. In many displacement situations refugee camps have to be provided with cooking fuel otherwise the collection of wood from a concentration of people can harm the environment permanently.