By Luther Krueger

The Museum of Solar cooking hosts a weekly online forum to informally knit together the growing population of solar cooking proponents into a more cohesive network. RSVP to to attend, participate, or present on your solar cooking designs, activities, or promotional efforts. The forum will take place twice weekly for one hour, with the same presentation and news 12 hours apart, so anyone in the world can attend online. It will be recorded for those who can’t attend.

When ESRAG’s newsletter editor sat in on the January Clean Cooking Task Force meeting, she asked for some criteria on when solar cooking is an appropriate technology, since it hadn’t previously been covered in the newsletter. Here’s what I replied:

Anywhere, anytime you have sun and you need to cook, solar cookers are the best device to use. The same advantages apply whether you’re in developed or developing countries:

  • Zero pollution–no respiratory illness or adding to your carbon footprint.
  • Free energy–no corporation, government or other mediating force can keep one from cooking for oneself, one’s family, or a village.
  • Solar cookers can cook, pasteurize water, and dry herbs and vegetables, and also can be used for crafts such as candle – and soap-making.
  • Solar thermal cookers stop deforestation altogether–full stop.
  • When combined with haybasket/retained heat cookers, cooking during daylight can be extended into the evening, and multiple dishes prepared with the same cooker.

When the sun is not shining, efficient wood- or biomass-burning stoves are the best solution, keeping in mind:

  • They slow deforestation but do not stop it.
  • Rocket stoves emit a lot fewer particulates and less toxic gases than other stoves–but still pollute and risk one’s health.
  • If you combine these efficient stoves with a retained heat/haybasket, you can reduce bio/wood fuel use even further.

Luther Krueger is Curator of the Big Blue Sun Museum of Solar Cooking, Minneapolis, MN, USA and a member of ESRAG’s Clean Cooking Task Force. In this picture by Dee Tvedt, a fan of his solar brunches, he’s busy cooking with sunshine.