The development impact of solar cookers: A review of solar cooking impact research in South Africa
Institute for Technological Innovation, Faculty of Engineering, Built Environment and Information Technology, PO Box 11906, Queenswood, Pretoria, 0121, South Africa; Institute for Technological Innovation, Faculty of Engineering, Built Environment and Information Technology, Lynwood Road, South Africa
Solar cooking is often considered "a solution looking for a problem". Solar cookers have long been presented as an interesting solution to the world's problem of dwindling fuel wood sources and other environmental problems associated with wood fuel demand for cooking. However, recent GTZ field work in South Africa showed different benefits instead: the use of solar cookers resulted in appreciable fuel and time savings as well as increased energy security for households using commercial fuels. These observations are based on field tests in South Africa that started in 1996 to investigate the social acceptability of solar cookers and to facilitate local production and commercialisation of the technology. Impact studies and use rate studies have been carried out by a number of different organisations since the inception of the project and although commercialisation of the technology has not been achieved to its fullest potential, impact studies indicate that solar cookers have a positive development impact on households through fuel-, energy- and time savings. The article aims to summarise the findings of the various studies and present an overview of use rates and impact data. A variety of factors influence solar cooker use rates, which in turn determine impacts. Some factors are related to the user, some to the environment in which the cooker is used and some to the cooker itself. Ultimately, the data shows that on average, only 17% of solar cooker owners do not use their stoves after purchase and that active solar cooker users utilise their stoves on average for 31% of their cooking incidences. Since the majority of solar stove buyers actually use their stoves and obtain real benefits, this suggests that that solar cookers are indeed not a solution looking for a problem but a solution worth promoting. © 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Economic and social effects; Energy resources; Environmental impact; Social aspects; Wood fuels; Household energy; Solar cooking; Solar equipment; alternative energy; household energy; solar cooker; solar power; Africa; South Africa; Southern Africa; Sub-Saharan Africa