Last edited: 11 May 2018      

Photo: Focus on Africa Magazine

In a Nairobi, Kenya market each pile of food items costs the same as the pile of charcoal in the center of the circle. By using a CooKit or other solar cooker, people can buy food instead of fuel.

Source: GRID Arendal[1]

A major disadvantage of traditional charcoal production is the low efficiency with which the energy of the wood used is converted into energy of charcoal. If one kilogram of charcoal with a calorific value of 30 kJ/kg is produced from 6 to 12 kg of wood with a calorific value of 15 kJ/ kg then this corresponds to an efficiency of 17% to 33%. Thus most of the energy contained in the wood is lost during traditional charcoal production. If the efficiency of the improved charcoal stove is 30%, then in total (related to the calorific value of the wood used) only 5% to 10% is effective i.e. absorbed from the pot. In comparison, fuelwood can be used directly, with efficiencies up to about 50%. Then only a small amount of firewood is necessary for the same task.

The fundamental problem, however, is that the traditional charcoal production causes logging of naturally grown trees. The traditional charcoal business is mainly depending on the "free" provision of the trees and the refusal of the provision for environmental and climate damage. Would these costs be added to the price of the charcoal, it would be the end of this billion-dollar market. It should be noted that this market is financed by poor households. From price increases due to the shrinking forest resources, poor households are particularly vulnerable when they depend on charcoal.[2]

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