DFID UK Aid has invested in evidence based reports on the Solar Electric Cooking idea. They commissioned four reports, three on specific research questions and one on a synthesis report to bring them together. Each report was authored by experts in the subject and peer reviewed by other experts in that field.
The conclusions are favourable to the original proposition, and suggest that further research be undertaken in the build up to 2020 when the proposition becomes economically viable for millions of households currently using biomass for their cooking.
Synthesis report. The proposition of Solar Electric Cooking (SEC or PV-eCook) is that by 2020 the cost of using solar photovoltaic panels to charge a battery, and then using the battery for cooking as and when required, will be comparable to the monthly cost of cooking with charcoal and wood in most developing countries. This paper summarises the findings of three papers exploring particular elements of the proposition – an economic model on the costings, the lifetime of batteries, and the socio-cultural drivers and barriers relating to the uptake of such a proposition.
Research Question 1 – The overall objective for this study is to give a sense of the likely price evolution of a PV-battery cooker over the next 15 years, and how that compares to traditional cooking with purchased fuels such as LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) or charcoal, with commentary on the sensitivities to different variables
Research Question 2 – The question is phrased as follows: “Given the technological development in batteries, and their current stated use, what would be the anticipated lifetime of a lithium iron phosphate battery (suitably sized for research question 1) operating in ‘harsh’ conditions (excessive heat and dust) and discharging for between 40 mins and three hours a day”.
Research Question 3 specifically addresses the following two research questions posed by DfID:
1. “What are the possible intra and inter household dynamics among African households (including the very poor) that may affect the uptake of [the proposed eCook concept]?”
2. “What are the behavioural change challenges that should be understood and investigated through longer term research that may affect the outworking of the concept?”