have been using a solar cooker for about 12 years. I am an ardent
admirer of the solar cooker. No day would pass by without the
solar cooker being wheeled out on its caster wheels to do its
job unless the weather is bad.
wife tells me that years ago in the 1980s in Delhi, where we were
then, she mentioned to me about a neighbour of ours using a solar
cooker and why not we. It appears I pooh poohed the idea. So it
comes as no surprise to me that people either do not know about
the solar cooker or even if they have heard about it do not think
it is a workable proposition.
our home the solar cooker is the default cooking appliance. When
it cannot be used we turn to the gas stove.
wife and I like solar cooking for its own sake. It is enjoyable
and convenient and also saves energy. The food comes out much
better in it. It preserves the nutrition better. We have not taken
to it only because we must save energy. Nor is it a case of putting
up with some discomfort in order to save some energy. We have
taken to it because solar cooking is physically less demanding.
My wife finds it more arduous to stand in front of the gas stove
straining to regulate the gas and see that the food does not boil
over or catch at the bottom and respond to the whistles of the
pressure cooker appropriately and generally be around in the kitchen
on her legs for a couple of hours or so. Visit
to the kitchen is not a one time stint in a day.
Several visits are required.
the solar cooker she can load up to four or five items in as many
boxes when the sun is up and she is free to attend to her other
chores without a concern. With two cookers we even boil our water
needs and we can even cook for the night or for the next day and
keep in the fridge if necessary. She is so used to the solar cooker
that she is positively unhappy when she cannot cook on a certain
day because of rain or cloud cover. She then blames the solar
cooker because she has to revert to conventional cooking instead
of being thankful for the days she could cook in the solar cooker!
This is the typical response of one who gets used to a convenience.
you curse the convenience rather than the lack of it before.
is it that in this country of bright people a country with the
largest scientific manpower a country which has several premier
technical and management institutions and national laboratories
no one has advocated solar energy for cooking seriously?
we have a full-fledged Ministry of Non-Conventional Energy (MNES).
They did make a serious effort to popularise the solar cooker
many years ago. But they gave it up, all too easily, as something
which is not accepted by the people. They are gamely persisting
with Adtiya Shops and State Nodal Agencies where, they say,cookers
are sold, but it is more in name than in reality in many places.
keep writing in their annual reports, year after year, that more
than 4,87,000 cookers have been sold and keep adding a few thousands
every year and publishing the cumulative total. Much of this impressive
number represents the sales made in the heady days of the late
eighties and early nineties. Many of the manufacturers who set
up production cannot sustain their costs at the current demand,
any longer, and have diversified into other related lines. The
solar cooker is made only in a few states in India about six or
is a sad development. Equally unhelpful has been the views of
some energy experts who seem have come to a conclusion that rural
energy must necessarily mean biogas or biomass energy.
India, in the household sector, the bulk of energy is spent on
cooking. Although in the urban households, there is a gradual
shift from fuelwood to LPG (liquefied petroleum gas), 32.7% (as
per 1991 census) of the urban poor still use fuelwood. According
to 1991 census, about 30% of urban population uses gas and another
30% uses firewood and chips, whereas in rural sector, about 78%
of the population rely on firewood and chips.
per the NCAER (National Council of Applied Economic Research)
survey conducted in 1978/79, cooking accounted for 85.2% of the
total energy consumed in the rural domestic sector. The women
in rural India, especially the poor have to trudge long distances
to forage for scraps of firewood.
of us agree that the poor rural womenfolk must be emancipated
from this drudgery. It needs no reiteration that the abatement
of pollution resulting from the burning of wood and protection
of trees from indiscriminate cutting are equally important considerations.
Amulya K.N.Reddy has written (Economic and Political Weekly, December
4, 1999) to say that the specific strategies that would advance
the goal of sustainable rural development are: --the reduction
of arduous human labour (especially the labour of women) for domestic
activities and agriculture; the modernisation of biomass as a
modern energy source in efficient devices; the transformation
of cooking into a safe, healthy and less unpleasant end-use activity;
the provision of safe water for domestic requirements; the electrification
of all homes (not merely villages); and the provision of energy
for income-generating activities in households, farms and village
feels that the thrust must be on energy sources and devices that
are renewable, biomass-based, universally accessible, affordable,
reliable, high quality and safe. He goes on to observe thus: "Specialised
agencies responsible for biomass energy and rural energy are absent
renewable energy has been given political approval through the
formation of a ministry of non-conventional energy sources. But,
it is easy to see that, particularly when the efforts are guided
by market forces, an emphasis on renewable energy can be restricted
to technologies that cater to urban energy demands and/or centralised
biomass energy. The rural poor are too weak economically to articulate
their needs as market demand.
it appears that the ministry of non-conventional energy sources
cannot give rural energy the special attention and emphasis that
it deserves. Rural energy requires the co-ordinated effort of
several ministries including rural development, power, petroleum,
etc, in addition to the ministry of non-conventional energy sources.
New institutional arrangements are required such as an inter-ministerial
for the short run for cooking this is what he advocates: "The
predominant fuel in rural areas being biomass, particularly fuelwood
and agricultural crop residues a switch to stoves and furnaces
fuelled with biogas, producer gas, natural gas and LPG is an obvious
next step. But, modern LPG-like fuels derived from biomass, so-called
biofuels, syngas in general and dimethyl ether (DME) in particular,
may be the medium-and long-term answer."
his articles referred to above Dr Reddy is so focussed on taking
a comprehensive view of the rural energy problem and on the need
to provide energy services rather than satisfying specific items
of energy consumption, based entirely on biomass as the source
(the DEFENDUS - -Development-focused end-use-oriented service-directed
-- paradigm) that he does not even mention the solar cooker as
an option that one could consider even for a part alleviation
of the cooking problem in the rural sector . Obviously the solar
cooker cannot provide the electrical energy for village industries.
But if it can provide the energy for cooking can it not be looked
at? Without asking for a drastic overhaul of the governmental
machinery cannot a modicum of relief be provided?
for the urban scenario nobody has any qualms, for LPG is there
for the asking. Graduating from kerosene to LPG is seen as a status
symbol. People strain their finances to be able to afford the
initial payment for the stove and deposit for the cylinder.
the initial euphoria = has gone they look at the realities. The
price of LPG for domestic use is Rs.17/kg while for commercial
use i.e.without subsidy it is Rs.27. It is clear that the burden
on government posed by subsidies of all kinds and the increasing
trend in the price of oil will see a progression towards increased
prices for LPG.
year 2000, when crude prices went past $ 30 a barrel and even
hovered around $ 35 is a pointer of things to come. We cannot
take for granted that we will have assured oil supply at low prices
for all time to come. And we are importing 70% of our oil requirements.
The gas bills for an average household is considerable. Surely
the solar cooker can come handy in this urban scenario also.
Solar energy is an energy source that can straddle both the urban
and rural sectors of the energy scene. But people tend to see
things in water tight compartments. In our pressing energy predicament
it may not be wise to look for comprehensive and picture perfect
solutions for our energy problems. If an ad hoc, low cost, simple,
labour-saving and easily manageable solution is available for
cooking our food, even for a part of the year, why not grab it
with both hands?
was therefore heartening to read that Tata Energy Research
Institute (TERI) in one of its papers has reached the following
conclusion: "Cooking with solar energy appears to be most
at the micro level, a solar cooker facilitates financial
savings for the consumer, while at the macro level, it helps
in conserving precious natural resources like fuelwood.
Moreover, cooking with solar cookers helps in abating the
But this satisfaction was shortlived. At TERIs web site
among the numerous Discussion Papers, Research Papers, Case
Studies and Project Reports there is no mention of the solar
cooker. The refrain is again on biomass energy.
Photo credit: Gene Thiemann, Lutheran World Relief (India,
1995) Woman testing a solar cooker at an appropriate technology
center in India's Tamil Nadu state.
TERI report goes on to say : "Much analysis has been done on why
the rural energy problem stays unabated despite the vast amounts
of resources invested. In most cases, the answers lie with the
people who, unfortunately, have not been made part of programme
planning and implementation. Though decentralized planning was
encouraged through programmes such as Urjagram and the Integrated
Rural Energy Programme, they could not become workable models
largely because they did not envisage any role for the local communities.
Perhaps what contributed the most to this is the fact that there
has been no change, whatsoever, in the strategy for planning and
implementing rural and renewable energy programmes since their
involving local communities is a failure of implementation and
not of technology. Other than improved chulhas and biogas nothing
worthwhile has been done to reform the cooking sector in the last
50 years. Improved Chulha still depends on firewood for fuel,
firewood which we should cease to use to the extent possible.
Biogas can only be a success in a cooperative effort. Individual
villagers, especially the poor, do not own so may heads of cattle
or have such a lot of agricultural waste that they can have a
viable and cheap biogas plant.
effort as Dr.Amulya Reddy has demonstrated in the Pura Biogas
model, in a community of some 450 people, is fine but it is not
easy. It is almost 10 years since the Pura project was started
and it had its teething problems. Only hard work and sustained
effort, and the introduction of a dual fuel engine could revive
it. Karnataka is bravely going ahead with the suTRA projects (
Bio-energy for Sustainable Transformation of Rural Areas) project.
One wishes it all success.
one cannot therefore conclude that pursuit of the DEFENDUS model
should foreclose other energy options for cooking needs even in
the interim. Especially in communities where bovine population
is scarce and in communities who live in scattered homesteads
as in Kerala it would be difficult to make a success of biogas
solar energy is touched upon in the context of a discussion on
rural energy what is brought up as a breakthrough is the photovoltaic
system and solar water heating system. This is totally unreal
as the rural poor are not so desperately short of energy for lighting
as they are for fuel for cooking. The rural villager is not dying
for want of hot water for taking a bath.
biomass systems and wind energy are wonderful inventions. They
are indeed relevant as sources of energy for certain decentralised
uses but they are costly and require considerable infrastructural
work and organisational planning to deliver in a rural set up;
even then they can only be used in a cooperative frame work.
the other hand the solar cooker is directed at the individual
household. All that need to be done is to reach it to the individual
user, demonstrate its capabilities in a patient way and convince
the people that it can save their energy bill to an extent, mitigate
the drudgery in the kitchen whether it be gas or fuelwood and
above all save the daily grind in search of firewood for the village
It is conceded that only those homes in which access to the sun
is conveniently possible can make a success of the solar cooker.
But at least such homes should be identified and an attempt made
to sell the idea of solar cooking.
TERI study makes this remark: "The failure of many rural and renewable
energy programmes to meet the expectations of the people has had
several adverse effects. Rural people are often apprehensive about
whether renewable technologies can actually work in the field.
Even the mature technologies fail to perform satisfactorily in
the field due to lack of repair and maintenance services, quality
control, user education and training, etc.
these aspects are still not given their due in programme planning.
An even bigger challenge is to find ways in which the programmes
can be made more sensitive to the sociocultural reality in which
they have to function." Such remarks are more applicable to more
complex technologies like the photovoltaics, wind energy, biogas
and hydro power where factory made equipments have to set up and
operated and maintained, often in common for a community There
will be wear and tear of equipment needing major repair facilities
and these will be beyond the capabilities of the rural resource
so with the solar cooker. The solar cooker is the most decentralised
and compact system possible. One can use it in a place cut off
from the outside world - indeed in Kargil where our Jawans are
using it. It does not require any infrastructural support nor
does it need cooperative action on the part of a community.
individual can make an individual choice to adopt the solar cooker.
It is a compact box, which looks just like a suit case one takes
for travel and requires hardly any more maintenance than a suit
case does. It is light to carry. It has no moving parts no tubes
or nozzles sticking out. It has no installation problems. If one
can invest Rs.1500 in a cooker one can start cooking the very
same day. Its cost can be recovered in 1 - 2 years and it can
go on serving for another 10 years and more. It is a lifetime
asset. The flip side is that
1. It requires sunshine for it to work
2. Because it has to be used outside of the kitchen one has to
be mentally reconciled to this as people are used to cooking in
3. It is slow to cook and it cannot do certain jobs.
of these is really such a problem that should force one to give
up the solar option. If the solar cooker cannot be used for 365
days in a year because it is cloudy or raining on some days, so
be it. One is not ruined. One doesn't have to worry about the
heavy depreciation of a costly asset. You just save fuel to the
extent you use the cooker. After all the solar cooker is only
a supplementary appliance.
the days you cannot use it you can go back to your conventional
stove and preferably use it conjunction with a thermal box to
save on the fossil fuel consumption (A thermal box or retained
heat cooker is one by which you can let food to cook by its own
retained heat in an insulated box. A Kerala based NGO has distributed
1 lakh cookers costing only Rs.175 per piece in one year. I use
one of these and it comes very handy when there is no sun).
who swear by Photovoltaics ( for lighting; not for cooking) forget
that this system also works only when there is direct sunshine
-- a solar cooker can at least make some use of diffuse sunshine
but not a Photovoltaic system.
mental adjustment required to cook outside of the kitchen might
be an initial barrier. But the Indian villager is intelligent
enough to realise that if a cooker will effect saving for him
on a consistent basis and when he looks at the full package of
virtues the solar cooker brings with it he will be willing for
some give and take.
for the accusation that it is slow to cook and cannot do certain
jobs there is some substance. It cannot do jobs like frying in
oil nor can it be used to make "chapattis." The food that most
people normally eat is boiled and only the tempering operation
with condiments is done in oil requiring high heat.
Luckily this is an operation that only takes some minutes. It
is a finishing operation and can be done over the regular oven
just before you eat. For me dishes which involve considerable
amount of frying in oil are best avoided but if they have to be
made only a conventional oven can make them.
for the poorer sections of society such fried foods are not what
they eat. In that sense the solar cooker will not fall short of
is also true that the solar cooker cannot cook as fast a conventional
stove. But side by side it has to be said that there are some
advantages for such slow cooking. The first is that it preserves
the nutrition better. Second, you can "load-and-forget" -- you
can set up the cooker and it will quietly do its job without your
having to be at hand to stir the food and see it does not burn
or catch at the bottom.
housewife's attention does not have to be riveted on the stove
; she can be relaxed and attend to other chores. For jobs such
as roasting (nuts etc) it is ideal. It also doubles up as a hot-case.
The food remains hot even if left longer than really necessary
and you can return to the cooker when it is time to eat without
having to reheat it.
the advantages with the solar cooker are many. It is really to
be seen as an oven kept permanently switched on. You can place
any item to be cooked inside and take it out when done. You can
easily do two rounds of cooking in a day. The point is conceded
that for households, where the routine is such that cooking would
have to be done early in the morning before the sun is up or late
in the day after the sun is down, or when food has to be made
at short notice the solar cooker would not work. But such is not
the routine in the bulk of the homes across the country. Let not
such special households hold up the progress of the entire country.
It is possible that in the estimation of energy experts like Dr.
Amulya Reddy low grade solar thermal energy, to which category
the solar cooker belongs, does not represent "high quality" energy.
That fact has to be accepted. But when solar energy comes at no
cost and capturing it to cook one's food is surprisingly easy
there is no reason why we should shy away from it. I would rather
opt for some saving in expenditure and convenience than none at
Photo credit: Gene Thiemann, Lutheran World Relief (India,
1995) A woman using a handmade solar cooker. The Women Workers
Training Center is an appropriate technology center supported
by Lutheran World Relief in its efforts to uplift local
women and develop hands-on skills such as gardening, appropriate
technology and handcrafts; using solar energy for cooking
is one of many ways the Center empowers village women in
India's Tamil Nadu state.
demerit of slowness in cooking has
been to an extent solved in the parabolic cooker which heats
up food at the focus of a concentrating reflector but in
this very process it loses the advantage of slowness --
it calls for closer supervision as it can burn the food
and closer supervision in the open hot sun can be difficult.
lost is the advantage that you can cook several items in
one go, and the capacity to keep the food hot. Besides,
this appliance is also much costlier.
parabolic cooker which has become the darling of MNES in
the last one year comes in three models -- costing Rs.5000,Rs.50000
and Rs.25 lakhs.
other problem with this type of cooker is that it needs
frequent adjustment to face the sun (unless driven by a
clockwork arrangement) which means having to visit the cooker
often in the hot sun.
are not moveable and have to be erected on a strong foundation
lest they be blown away by winds, their shiny parabolic
surfaces are apt to gather dust and require cleaning with
the attendant danger of scratching the surfaces, the whole
mounting has to brave the sun and rain all their life which
means some maintenance cost.
these parabolic cookers are being pushed by MNES with a hefty
50% subsidy, the lowly box cooker gets no subsidy. This defies
looks as though we cannot capture all the good aspects in one
appliance, in one method. The same Catch-22 situation is true
of another variation of the solar box cooker in which there are
reflecting panels all round the box, quicker cooking but requiring
closer attention. Such ovens are commercially available in U.S.A.
The best design option seems to be the simple box cooker with
optional extra reflective panels so that for operations requiring
stronger heat, such as for baking bread, you can attach the extra
tragedy has been that the solar programme which was launched with
much fanfare 15 years ago backed by Central subsidy was allowed
to fall by the wayside after the subsidy was discontinued in 1994.
It has now to fend for itself. Many manufacturing units which
came up have had to face closure because of inadequate demand.
It is being made only in a few states in the country.
has to be a persistent effort, over a long period, to popularise
the solar cooker which a new technology such as it represents
will need to take root. It has to be held aloft as the one programme
which is affordable to the common man and held aloft for long.
It is this patient and dedicated effort that has been sadly lacking.
failure to persist with a proven technology like the solar cooker
for the necessary length of time has led to premature conclusions
such as the following drawn from one of the TERI reports: "The
present supply-demand scenario indicates that biomass would continue
to be the mainstay of the rural energy sector in the foreseeable
principal thrust of any meaningful rural energy policy is to shift
from the present traditional biomass technologies to efficient
biomass technologies which provide greater energy service with
same resource. While a number of technologies are available for
meeting rural energy requirements, some of them need to be developed
further to attain techno-economic viability. The penetration of
various commercial fuels will remain quite low, and at the present
rate, it would take a long time for the RETs (Renewable energy
technology) to make any significant impact on the sector."
rash conclusion is this: "As far as rural energy technologies
are concerned, none of them is at the stage where it could be
completely commercialised across all parts of the country. Therefore,
it is important to identify those technologies and those areas
where this would be possible, and take up the task of commercialisation."
simple truth about the solar cooker is that it is most easily
fabricated. The materials required are aluminium sheet and channels,
rubber gasket, glass wool insulation, plane window glass and glass
mirror. Given these materials it does not require complex tools
or costly capital equipment to fabricate a cooker which is simply
a 2ft. square box.
village artisan can make a cooker. It is no more complex than
the making of a window or a door from wooden slats is to a village
carpenter. Promoting solar cooker as a village industry will promote
rural employment. It should be possible to set up a solar cooker
making unit in every district to start with.
of the TERI reports says thus: "It is increasingly being realized
that if local communities are to contribute significantly and
find sustainable solutions to their environment and energy related
concerns, there is need to build capacities at the grassroots
level in terms of creating awareness regarding energy and environment
issues, and developing technical and managerial expertise to plan
and manage programmes effectively." This comment would not have
been made if the writer knew the simple appliance that the solar
cooker is. The solar cooker only needs to be made visible. Its
full and true potential only needs to be made known.
have mentioned only about the cooking potential of the solar cooker.
The solar cooker can do many more things. It can be used for small
scale drying needs in homes and other domestic heating jobs. I
have dealt with all the aspects of solar cooking in my book "MAKING
THE MOST OF SUNSHINE -- A Handbook of Solar Energy for the Common
Man" (published January 2001). India has traditionally been the
most important client of World Bank energy projects.
August, 1993, the Bank approved energy projects for this country
amounting to 8.6 billion dollars. They all financed thermal and
hydro power plants, power grid systems and coal mine projects.
In December, 1992, the Bank's Executive Board for the first time
approved a project in order to promote the use of renewable energy
sources in India. (Actually, this was the first such project in
any country in the history of the Bank.)
project was to be funded by IDA (115 million dollars), the IBRD
(75 million dollars), the GEF (26 million dollars), bilateral
donors (Denmark, 50 million dollars, and Switzerland, 4 million
dollars) as well as official and private domestic sources (180
purpose of the project was to stimulate demand for wind,
photovoltaic and small hydropower schemes in a way which
would render their production commercially attractive. Specifically,
the project was to finance the construction of 40 - 50 small
hydro schemes, wind farms with a capacity of 85 megawatt,
a limited amount of solar panels, a marketing program for
such panels, and the expansion of biomass energy projects.
is noteworthy that the World Bank had use for the solar
cooker. We should know better than walk on the line drawn
by the World Bank. Government could have availed of funds
from Aid institutions for the popularisation of the solar
cooker. The results would have been far more rewarding than
those achievable by the other capital intensive renewable
energy technologies. This could be done even now.
it would be true to say that the solar cooker programme has not
been seriously looked at by the authorities in India, be it government
or our technical institutions or the NGOs. It is necessary that
the solar cooker should be brought into the centre stage of our
renewable energy programmes.
is my thesis that we need to concentrate on propagating the solar
box cooker for as long as it takes to take root, if need be 50
years. We need to do the following:
1. MNES should recommence propagating the solar box cooker in
a big way. This should be one of its main tasks if not the main
one. It should have full-fledged division only for this activity.
In the states the nodal agencies should have a vibrant programme
reflecting this priority. Till now hardly any part of IREDA=92s
approximate annual outlay of Rs.200 crores has gone into solar
2. MNES should bring into one place, such as the Solar Energy
Centre at Gurgaon which is its technical wing, all the many models
of the solar box cooker made in India and all over the world and
subject them to a rigorous testing and analysis with a view to
bringing out a few models, a Janata model and one or more up market
models. Even some designs for panel cookers should be made available.
One of the aims of the design should be that it could be made
in CKD condition so that it is easily stacked for transport.
3. The ultra light weight Sunstove cooker made in Calcutta should
also be evaluated and presented to the people as an option.
4. If necessary a committee of sympathetic experts drawn from
industry, IITs and National Labs should be constituted to evolve
a few standard designs using efficient and quality materials in
a time bound framework.
5. Involve the industry making the materials for the cooker, namely
the aluminium industry, glass industry, the rubber industry and
the plastics industry in the above exercise and in promoting solar
6. MNES should arrange for full and detailed instructions for
"Do-It-Yourself" kits being made widely distributed so that even
village artisans can make the cookers. There are organisations
abroad like Vita, Brace Institute and Ulog who make such plans
7. It is heartening to see the newspaper publicity given to the
solar box cooker in the December 2000 by MNES - coming after an
interregnum of many years perhaps. This publicity should be a
regular feature and the advertisements should come out at frequent
8. Newspaper publicity is not enough. There should be regular
publicity, attractively designed, taking the help of expert agencies
- over the TV in the manner of the Tele Shopping Network or the
Asian Sky Shop.
9. Success stories of the solar cooker should be broadcast over
TV in the Rural programme slot and more importantly in other prime
10. Enlist the participation of celebrities, singers and actors
to speak about energy issues and the use of solar cookers at TV
shows and other events.
11. MNES/IREDA should make web space freely available to interested
activists for posting news and stories of happenings all over
the country in the area of low grade solar thermal energy. A newsletter
should also be brought out on similar lines. Here also Chambers
of Commerce and leaders of industry in the areas relevant to the
solar cooker can help.
12. Chambers of Commerce should be requested to make industry
leaders take an initiative in promoting the use of the solar cooker
among their employees and labour.
13. Solar cookers should be given away as prizes in various competitions
broadcast over TV and by businesses on various occasions such
as quiz competitions, annual day and other celebrations.
14. Solar cookers should be exhibited and demonstrated and sold
in all rural fairs and exhibitions, in major fairs such as the
Nauchandi, Pushkar and Kumbh Mela and also in small and medium
fairs as well such as on occasions Onam, Pongal, Bihu, Diwali
and Durga Puja fairs and even in local village fairs. The state
nodal agencies should have their eyes and ears open for these
15. Science and Technology museums, zoos and such other places
should not only display solar gadgets; they should make snacks
in solar cookers and sell them to visiting public.
16. Solar cookers should be made available through retail outlets
of the oil industry.
17. Cardboard manufacturers should be harnessed through Chambers
of Commerce to make cardboard kits available at nominal cost in
all Aditya shops, state nodal agency offices, and in schools.
18. The Petroleum Conservation Association and the petroleum industry
itself should be brought into the solar cooker programme.
19. Solar energy has mistakenly become synonymous with photovoltaics
mainly because of the preferences shown by World Bank and solar
panel making multinationals. We should project our solar (thermal)
cooker programme requirements to Aid agencies abroad.
20. VIPs starting from the President downwards should have solar
cookers installed in their houses. (President Carter had a solar
panel in the White House). Ministers, MPs, MLAs, local body leaders
such as panchayat presidents and municipal chairmen should be
asked to use solar cookers. Similarly industry and business leaders
and even the members of the elite society should also be encouraged
to use the solar cooker.
21. Where houses are distributed to the poor solar cooker should
be included in the package.
22. In schools both day schools (for noon feeding) and residential
schools such as Sainik schools, Navodaya schools and in residential
institutions like orphanages, poor homes, homes for the destitute,
homes for senior citizens, homes for the disabled and the blind
and in prisons solar cookers should be introduced.
23. Science and Nutrition classes in schools and colleges should
have demonstrations of the solar cooker.
24. Schools and NCC and Boy Scouts should have projects for making
25. The syllabus of schools should have the CBSE type of syllabus
with emphasis on solar energy. Books like Physics by Lakhmir Singh
and Manjit Kaur, which covers the subject extremely well, should
26. Essay competitions and declamation contests should be held
on solar energy and generous prizes given.
27. Manufacture of the solar cooker should be set up in every
district to start with. Repair facilities should go with it.
28. Khadi and Village Industries Commission should be involved
in the setting up of manufacturing facilites for the solar cooker
in a big way.
29. Loan facilities through banks should be made more liberal.
The existing system of "collateral" should be done away with.
Loans should be given on less onerous conditions.
30. There should a mass movement to popularise the solar cooker
among the people involving community leaders,opinion makers, panchayats,women's
organisations and NGOs and organisations like the Rotary and the
Lions, and Y's Men, religious and social service organisations
like Ramakrishna Mission, Chinmaya Mission, Brahmakumaris, the
Muslim, Christian, Sikh and Jain missions, charities and associations
and through residential associations in towns.
31. Solar cookers should be given at subsidised rates to those
below the poverty line. The beneficiary payment should be realised
in small instalments. Financial arrangements for easy purchase
of the solar cooker should bemade on the lines of the arrangements
made by SELCO for photovoltaic devices. (The Solar Electric Light
Company (SELCO) is a company providing solar electric light and
power for the developing world. With headquarters near Washington,
DC, SELCO has operations presently in India, Vietnam, China, and
32. Solar Cooker Patrikas should be started in communities where
members can exchange their experiences and problems and problem
33. While introducing solar cookers care should be taken to see
that the pros and cons are explained, that suitability of the
house premises and compatibility with household routine are taken
34. The household renewal energy package should include the Thermal
Cooker or the Retained Heat Cooker (available in Kerala for Rs.175
and of which I lakh pieces have been sold in a year). This will
take care of days with inclement weather when the solar cooker
cannot be used.
35. Government should set some standards to work towards in respect
of solar cookers such as Western countries have done for electricity
generation (namely, Renewables Portfolio Standards. for instance
in, U.S.A.it is set at 7.5% by 2010, in Australia 2% in a decade
and so on.)
36. The solar cooker should be made more visible in every way.
Any means by which this can be done should be resorted to.
is a country blessed with plenty of sunshine. It has plenty of
poor people. The sunshine falling on a square yard of ground is
enough to cook for ten people. Why can't we make use of this bonanza
of energy for cooking instead of letting it go waste?
is a retired IAS officer whose last posting was as Chief
Secretary, Govt. of Kerala. He is a passionate advocate
of the usage of solar energy in low-cost ways for enhancing
the quality of life. He has written books
on solar cooking in English and Malayalam.
He can be contacted at J-7,Jawaharnagar, Trivandrum 695041.
Tel:0471-327432 Email: email@example.com
or more photos in this publication/presentation were selected
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