Solar Cooking at WIREC

This coming week in Washington is a hot one when it comes to renewable energy, as the United States hosts the Washington Internation Renewable Energy Conference (WIREC).  WIREC is a combination of official ministerial (and other government) meetings and presentations; a business conference about renewable energy developments; a trade show; some real interesting looking “official side events“; and a chance for related presentations and demonstrations.   This really is a “be there or be square” event for those concerned about renewable energy (and its potential to help address Peak Oil, Global Warming, social justice, and other critical issues before us/US).

The government and business conferences don’t start until Tuesday, but that doesn’t mean that Monday, 3 March, doesn’t have a pretty full agena.

What has my eye at the moment?  A prayer for sun inside a conference room Monday, 3-5 pm, as some of the best in the solar cooking “industry” (is it right to call it an industy, I wonder) will combine for a presentation on solar cooking:

Solar cooking is a rapidly growing practice in both the developing and the developed world. Its proven benefits are environmental, health-related, economic and social. In this session, a who’s who from the nonprofit and for-profit worlds will brief attendees on the state of the art in solar cooking technology transfer, technical innovation and public policy reform. Each sponsoring organization will lend its unique perspective and hands-on perspective in conveying the promise, progress and challenges ahead for solar cooking. Examples of popular solar cooking devices will be featured.

Truly, I do not believe in Silver Bullets, with a passion for advocating Silver BBs, Silver Buckshot, and Silver Darts.  While it certainly isn’t the Silver Bullet that will solve the globe’s problems, Solar Cooking certainly is ‘silver’ in my book.  And, sadly, it is ‘silver’ that simply hasn’t gotten enough attention and support. 

The benefits of using solar cookers whenever the sun is shining, in addition to smoke-free cooking, include:  job creation; technology transfer; capacity building; decreased deforestation; reduction in CO2 emissions from cooking fires; preservation of forests and ground cover; sterilization of medical instruments; reduction in respiratory, lung, intestinal and eye diseases; and the ability to pasteurize water for drinking.  Solar cooking, when used as part of an integrated cooking program can reduce fuel consumption by more than 75%!

If you’re not up on solar cooking, time to be so and Monday’s event is a pretty good opportunity to hear from people who really know what they’re talking about.

Solar Cooking is something suitable for backyard barbecuing (and daily meal preparation) in the “developed” world while offering, quite literally, a life-changing possibility for many in the developing world.  Solar Cooking is one of those win-win-win approaches that truly makes you wonder what is in the mind of “development experts” when they aren’t part of the agenda for efforts around the globe.


  • Solar Cookers International is a non-profit seeking to “spread solar cooking skills and technologies where they are needed most. Within their website is Solar Cooking Archive, a major resource, with many (MANY) links.
  • Solar Household Energy, Inc:  A non-profit that ” seeks to harness free enterprise to introduce solar cooking where it can improve quality of life and relieve stress on the environment.”  They have developed an excellent system, the HotPot, which they are seeking to spread throughout the developing world. (Americans can buy a HotPot via SunOven.ORG — $99.95.)
  • Sun Ovens International, dedicated to “Saving Lives by Preserving Forests Around the World”.  Has a very large system Village Sun Oven(Villager Sun Oven) “designed for large-scale feeding situations that require cooking great volumes of food quickly.”  This can hit 500+ F cooking temperatures.  For Americans, there is the quite excellent Sun Oven, which folds wonderfully and can be easily moved around for barbecueing, traveling or otherwise. Want to cook a 15 lb Turkey while camping, the Sun Oven can do the trick without any campfire.
  • Tulsi Hybrid Oven is a combo electric, solar cooking system that enables one to plan a meal, even amid cloudy weather. The claim is roughly a 75% reduction in electricity use. This is a system that can cook at home, be taken on picnics, or support an off-grid life.  A recent review of solar cooking options gave the Tulsi five stars.

Although it is portable, hybrid stovethe Hybrid Solar Oven is a little too heavy to carry up into the woods. But if you don’t want to be sitting hungry wishing the clouds would go away, this solar oven is the best bet you can make. It uses the sun when rays are available, and switches to electric power from a normal 120V outlet when clouds move in.

Well, if you want to spend just a few dollars to build one and test it out, check out
How to Build A Solar Cooker. There are many easy to execute plans, many of which should cost just a few dollars to make.  (And, well, some are a bit fancier.  Check out the Cob (photo show) and imagine it finished with tiles, would make a pretty fancy backyard barbecue, no?)


3 responses to “Solar Cooking at WIREC

  1. Only for your information: German organisations are doing solar cooking already for years in West Africa incl. production of the stove in that area with great success (Burkina Faso, etc.). These countries can manufacture the stoves without import from other countries or multinational companies.

  2. The solar cooking panel presentation at the WIREC conference packed the room– we were gratified to see such strong interest in the topic from the renewable energy crowd. The companies and nonprofits promoting this technology are still in their infancy and need all the support they can get to get the message out about solar cookng’s tremendous potential. Pass on the word!


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