Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Solar Energy: for cooking!!

When we analyze ways to augment energy production, I think we should spare a moment to focus on activities having major energy demands. Then effort should be directed toward creating a number of viable options for people to use. Awareness about the available choices will definitely lead to sensible energy consumption patterns

Thinking on these lines, I guess, creating viable alternate fuels for cooking would benefit a lot of people. What works for a certain area may not work else where because of availability of resources/logistics; but solar cooking definitely works in India--with India receiving daily solar energy of 5 to 7 KWH/M2 for 300 to 330 days in a year, using the sun’s rays as fuel is turning out to be a successful proposition

A vast majority of people in the lower economic strata in India have been facing problems of cooking fuel and forage in nearby wooded areas for firewood leading to depletion of forest cover. However, since 1982, the Indian Ministry of Non-conventional Energy Sources has taken up popularizing a method of using solar energy for cooking. When sunlight falls on a black surface it is absorbed and transformed into heat. Glass has the property of letting in light but not heat. If a shallow glass covered chamber coated black inside and insulated all around is exposed to sunlight the temperature inside exceeds 100 degree Celsius, sufficient to cook food. More heat can be achieved by having an exterior reflector. The solar box cooker incorporates these features( www.indiatogether.org/stories/suncook.htm)

A solar cooker is a box shaped slow cooking device which can cook four dishes at a time. It is an ideal device for domestic cooking in India during most of the year except the monsoon season and cloudy days. Cookers with electrical back up could be used even during non-sunshine hours. This cooker is made available for around the equivalent of 25$ (it’s being subsidized by the government) and has no recurring cost thereafter ( www.indiasolar.com/solarcookers.htm)

This is slowly changing rural India and seems a viable option for third world countries in the African continent for instance, as they too enjoy hot tropical weather with bright sunshine for most of the year!!

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