Solar Cooking


Last edited: 28 April 2022      

Aerial view of the 7,438 school children learning the basics of solar cooking at SuryaKumbh 2017 - Photo credit: Vivek Kabra

SuryaKumbh festival again sets record - Vivek Kabra reports: "On 11 Feb, 2017, approximately 7,500 school children created history by participating in the World's Largest Solar Cooking Festival. Trained by 400 trainers and guided by 150 supervisors, each one of them made their own solar cooker and cooked noodles in it. Having experienced the power of the sun first hand, each child took the SuryaKumbh solar cooker back home to share the magic of cooking without fuel." The event this year was organized by the Mira Bhayander Municipal Corporation and held in the Bhayandar - Thane area. More information...


  • NEW:  12-14 July 2023 (A Coruña, Spain): CONSOLFOOD2023 - Organizers have released a first call for abstracts to participate in the Fifth International Conference, taking place in Spain in 2023 as an in-person conference. The deadline for submission is 15 December 2022. More submittal information...
See also: Global Calendar of Events and past events in India

Most significant projects[]

Shirdi roof collector array

Shirdi collector array diagram

Cooking in the kitchen at Shirdi

  • Rooftop solar installation feeds 50,000 people per day: Gadhia Solar Energy Systems Pvt. Ltd. completed installation of a solar steam cooking system, capable of cooking 40,000-50,000 meals per day. It is located at Shirdi Sai Baba temple in Shirdi, Maharashtra, India. With nearly 30,000 visitors each day, the temple’s dining halls are some of the largest in India. The solar steam cooking system is comprised of seventy-three rooftop-mounted Scheffler reflectors of sixteen square meters each. The dishes concentrate sunlight on receivers that contain water, generating steam that is piped down to the kitchen for cooking purposes. To maintain constant focus with the sun, the dishes automatically rotate throughout the day after being manually aligned once each morning. The solar steam cooking system is retrofitted to existing liquid petroleum gas-powered steam boilers that are still used in the evening and during prolonged periods of inclement weather. Though the solar steam cooking system cost nearly $300,000, government subsidies reduced the temple’s portion to about $170,000. Liquid petroleum gas use has been cut by roughly 100,000 kilograms each year, for an annual savings of approximately $45,000. The temple should recoup its investment in three to four years. According to company founder Deepak Gadhia, the solar steam cooking technology was originally developed in Germany. However, the equipment does not contain imported components, and is manufactured with local machinery and labor, creating much-needed jobs. Gadhia has adapted the system for use in India, and has installed 50 such systems of varying sizes over the past two decades. The March edition of CNN’s Eco Solutions program highlights the Shirdi Sai Baba temple solar steam cooking system.

Aerial view of the 7,438 school children learning the basics of solar cooking at SuryaKumbh 2017 - Photo credit: Vivek Kabra

  • SuryaKumbh festival again sets record for largest solar cooking workshop - Vivek Kabra reports: "On 11 Feb, 2017, 7,500 school children created history by participating in the World's Largest Solar Cooking Festival. Trained by 400 trainers and guided by 150 supervisors, each one of them made their own solar cooker and cooked noodles in it. Having experienced the power of the sun first hand, each child took the SuryaKumbh solar cooker back home to share the magic of cooking without fuel." The event this year was organized by the Mira Bhayander Municipal Corporation and held in the Bhayandar - Thane area. More information...

Jimmy McGilligan demonstrates a large parabolic solar reflector to local women. Photo credit: Janak McGilligan

  • Jimmy McGilligan Centre for Sustainable Development and the Barli Development Institute for Rural Women - The long lasting partnership of Janak McGilligan and Jimmy McGilligan has provided a depth of solar cooking instruction for rural residents in India, beginning their work in 2008. Since that time, the two facilities, the Jimmy McGilligan Centre for Sustainable Development and the Barli Development Institute for Rural Women, have trained over 150,000 youths in solar cooking, and over 6,000 rural and tribal women from over 1,000 villages to be community workers and trainers for solar cooking. They have shown communities that solar cookers can prepare their traditional and community foods with no problem, and have supervised the installation of many Scheffler Community Kitchens. Their projects have helped the self esteem of the local women, and created opportunities for them to use solar cooking to establish businesses that continue to provide community revenue. Jimmy passed away in 2011, but as of 2022, Janak continues to carry on their valuable work. Watch Janak McGilligan recall their work at CONSOLFOOD 2022


  • NEW: April 2022: Pali village to go solar - Pali village located in the Samba District was visited by PM Narendra Modi to inaugurate a 500 kW solar plant. Sarpanch Randhir Sharma said, “Every house has been given solar cooker. Some families use wood as kitchen fuel. We are trying to provide them solar stoves.” Read more...
  • November 2021: Building back Suryakumbh - Vivek Kabra, with assistance from Project Chirag, was able to organize and create the first Surkakumbh since 2019. He reported that sixty children from the tribal belt of Mokhada experienced the magic of solar cooking by cooking sumptuous poha without fuel, fire, or electrical heating.

Pallavi Patil of Pune, describes the many ways she has reduced her LPG consumption with the help of solar cooking - The Better India

  • November 2021: Reducing the family's LPG consumption - Pallavi Patil of Pune, has found many techniques for living more simply, and also resulting in lowering her familie's LPG consumption. She grows much of her own food, and realized they could live without air conditioning or a refrigerator. uses a solar box cooker, comprised of an insulated square box, a glass lid on the cooking tray and a mirror on its underside. The food placed in metal pots is cooked by the heat absorbed by a blackened surface. “Our gas cylinder used to last us for two months, but using a solar cooker helps me save 15 days’ worth of gas and half the labour. The food is cooked at stable temperatures and doesn’t require dedicated stirring." Read more...

Suneel Chauhan has created a prototype for a mobile tea serving business. Image credit: Suneel Chauhan

  • November 2021: Mobile bicycle tea service - A young entrepreneur from Indore MP, Suneel Chauhan, has begun testing a prototype system he calls the Solar Tea Stall on Cycle. A style solar cooker is mounted to the rear of a three wheel tricycle. When stopped it can quickly provide hot water for tea, and when traveling the trough reflector can be flipped forward to provide sun shading or rain protection for the rider. He hope is that this model will provide more employment opportunities for villagers. As well as tea, business owners can serve eggs, bread, paratha, and dal rice. Suneel is currently seeking mass production assistance, and can be reached at +91 6260 036385.

LPG gas burner, Photo credit: The CSR Journal

  • September 2021: Cooking gas getting costlier every fortnight, worth the damage? The CSR Journal explores the situation occurring in India, where the cost of LPG gas is rising quickly. They consider the alternatives, and give credit to Bancha in Betul district, as the first village in India to have zero wooden stoves and almost no use for LPG cylinders, as the entire village has converted to using solar cooking appliances. Read more...

    Deepak Gadhia, with Pranav and Bharat Gadhia, are on hand for the Scheffler reflector replacement at the Green Campus at Vankuva School

  • February 2021: New reflectors at Vankuva School - Deepak Gadhia reports that the large Scheffler reflectors on-site are in the process of being replaced at the Green Campus at Vankuva School] in Gujarat, India. The original reflectors each measured 10m2, and the new ones measure 16m2. The new reflectors will be first used to test existing thermic fluid, and then converted and tested with the pressurized hot water system solar thermal system.
  • September 2020: Prime Minister Modi calls for low-cost indoor solar cooking solutions - "In line with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call to action for developing low-cost indoor solar cooking solutions, IOCL has tied up with Sun Bucket System, a US-based start-up working in the niche area of solar energy-based products. We are encouraging Indian oil and gas companies to develop such innovative and scalable tie-ups in solar sector, which have the potential to make nationwide impact.” More information...

Recent Barefoot College graduates - Photo credit: Barefoot College

  • September 2020: Meet These 'Solar Mamas' of Rajasthan - The community-based Barefoot College, located in Tilonia, encourages a hands-on-training process of gaining practical knowledge. Since 2004, Barefoot college has been teaching solar engineering skills to illiterate older women from rural communities. Women are indeed agents of change, which is why they are being trained to use solar cookers, desalination plants, and water heaters. They then return to their villages to establish projects and train others. Read more...
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Ajay Chandak stands with the company's award winning PRINCE-40 Photo credit: PRINCE

  • November 2019: The PRINCE-40 wins award - The PRINCE-40 parabolic solar cooker, designed to serve a community, has won a National Grand Challenge for designing a robust, efficient, and compact community solar cooker. The challenge was from Department of Science and Technology, Government of India. The award focussed on community solar cooker designs.
Fuel cost comparison, 11-4-19 .jpg
  • November 2019: Electric cooking starts to simmer in rural India - Following the success of the Saubhagya initiative and its announcement of 100 per cent rural household electrification, efficiency gains and cost reductions in solar panels and batteries are opening up a new market that has the potential to avoid using any solid or fossil fuel, with solar-powered electric cooking or e-cooking using pressure and rice cookers and induction stoves gaining traction. The winner of the 2017 challenge, IIT Bombay, has since conducted a project to convert the entire village of Bancha in Madhya Pradesh to solar panels and induction cookstoves instead of wood-burning or LPG stoves. With Rs 8.5 million provided by ONGC, all the 75 houses in Bancha now rely on solar-powered electric stoves to meet their cooking needs. Besides reducing air pollution, villagers no longer have to collect firewood from nearby forests, saving time and effort. More information...

Around 24.75 lakh houses have been occupied under PMAY (Urban) - Photo credit: Financial Express

  • October 2019: Modi govt to offer Ayushman, Ujjwala benefits for PMAY users in three month trial program - The government will not just cover these beneficiaries under schemes like Ujjawala and Ayushman Bharat, but will also offer them solar energy run devices like solar cookers, etc as part of its efforts to develop a holistic self-sufficient and sustainable urban cluster. Under PMAY (Urban), the ministry of housing and urban affairs (MoHUA) has sanctioned around 90 lakh houses so far, of which 53.40 lakh have been grounded (work started) and more than 27.17 lakh have been completed with an investment of around Rs 5.54 lakh crore. Around 24.75 lakh houses have been occupied. It was officially rolled out in all cities under PMAY (Urban) on October 2 and will conclude on December 10. The campaign is to commemorate the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. More information...

IndianOil director, Dr. SSV Ramakumar, unveiled the start of the indoor solar cooking program in Leh, Ladakh Photo credit; PSU

  • September 2019: Oil company supports indoor solar cooking: - IndianOil has formed a partnership with the start-up company, Sun Buckets, to sponsor a test pilot program of their indoor solar cooking system in Leh, Ladakh. The Sun Bucket can be ‘charged’ using parabolic solar concentrators kept outdoors. Once charged, the system is capable of storing and discharging the thermal energy on demand for indoor cooking — for boiling, steaming, frying and to make roti. It has enough heat storage capacity to cater to cooking demands during the day as well as at night. More information...

The model being built (left) and Alzubair Saiyed teaching a workshop (right)

  • September 2019: Gujarat Man Teaches Tribal Women to Make Solar Cookers That Cost Just Rs 100! - The Better India (“We have organised the Solar Cooker Workshop in more than 100 villages till date. In the last two years, our initiative has reached many parts of Maharashtra and Karnataka as well. While on the one hand, many rural families have already begun using solar cookers successfully, on the other, we are working on setting up a solar cooker laboratory in the tribal village of Casa located in Palghar district of Maharashtra,” said Alzubair Saiyed.)
PRINCE - 40 parabolic cooker, 2-6-12.jpg
  • July 2019: In the second week of July, Dr. Ajay Chandak will lead an environmental expedition to Ladakh to demonstrate the ability of solar thermal parabolic cookers to cook food and boil tea with the power of the sun even when snow is on the ground and temperatures are below freezing. Ladakh, a high-altitude desert with more than 325 clear sunny days and no locally available cooking fuel is an ideal region for cooking with solar thermal devices. Using solar cookers whenever the sun is shining can significantly reduce the amount of subsidized LPG fuel that residents of this region must currently purchase and import every year. Ajay and his team will demonstrate low cost, easy to use PRINCE solar cookers at schools and rural child care centers (Aanganwadis). They will carry out a solar cooking expedition to Khardungla Pass, at an elevation of 5360 mt (17585.2 ft) on the 10th of July. Ajay also plans to donate a PRINCE-40 solar community cooker to Indian Army personnel for pilot testing so that it can be used in remote outposts in this region where all cooking fuel must be imported at tremendous expense. Ajay has been instrumental in training and mentoring entrepreneurs from Ladakh since 2010. These entrepreneurs have manufactured and installed almost 1000 domestic solar cookers in the reg
  • March 2019: Smart Solar Cooking Solutions Design National Challenge 2019 - The Department of Science and Technology, Government of India is providing young Indian innovators with a chance to submit their designs of efficient and user-friendly solar cooking solutions and win financial grants. Indian citizens affiliated to any academic institution, R&D organization and/or an Indian company/Industry recognized under the Company’s Act/DSIR may apply for this scholarship with their design ideas. The last date to apply for the challenge was 31 March 2019. [ More information...
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Articles in the media[]

See earlier media articles.

Audio and video[]

  • March 2022:

Solar-powered food dehydrator empowers Indian farmers-2

Solar-powered food dehydrator empowers Indian farmers

  • February 2017:
  • May 2016:

CST and Solar Cooker Excellence Award 2016

Piyush Goyal, Minister of State with Independent Charge for Power, Coal and New & Renewable Energy, presents on solar energy use in India.

  • January 2016:
  • June 2015:

The Solar Bowl

A charitable institution inTamil Nadu, India is using solar energy to cook 3,000 meals for 650 children a day, reducing dependence on cooking gas and saving nearly US$ 8,000 each year.

  • February 2015:


News story four minutes into the video showing thousands of students solar cooking at the Maha Suryakumbha event in January 2015.

  • July 2014:

McGilligan Empowering young Rural and Tribal women with Solar Cookers

  • May 2013:

Square Parabolic Solar Cooker

Goldin Bennet of the Department of Instrumentation and Control Engineering National Institute of Technology Tiruchirapalli, shows how they have fabricated a parabolic solar cooker using small square panels in 2013.

  • February 2010:
  • February 2010:

Solar Cookers in India, Global Ideas

Deepak Gadhia's efforts promoting various solar powered projects

  • September 2007:

The Smokeless Village

News report showing the Smokeless Village where all inhabitants cook with solar cookers


A solar cooking demonstration in Delhi in 1956. Photo credit: Wake-Up India

Ministry of Non-Conventional Energy Sources

India, Asia's second largest country next to China, is second to China in the number of solar cookers in use. The situation in India has been more complex than that of China., and more is known about Indian programs. The Third World Conference on Solar Cooking was held in India, which permitted the history and progress of solar technology's uses to be better known around the world.

The Ministry of Non-Conventional Energy Sources (MNES), Government of India, was established in 1982, first as a Department and later as a Ministry. The Ministry's mandate extended well beyond solar cooking, including fuel efficient wood and charcoal stoves, power from other renewable sources, energy from industrial wastes, and research and development in a number of related fields (photovoltaics, biogas, and pollution prevention, for example). MNES began seriously to promote solar cooking in the early 80s, with an initial focus almost entirely on the solar box cooker.

The population of India is roughly 70% rural. MNES states, "cooking accounts for a major share of the total energy consumption in rural homes (Singhal, correspondence, 2003, p. 1). Sources of that energy use have been largely fuelwood, animal dung, or crop residues. All emit smoke, pollute the atmosphere, and are deterimental to health and safety of family members, particularly women. Fuelwood has become more scarce each coming year. FAO data show that 21.6% of the Indian land mass is forested, and conservation efforts have been in place to reverse previous loss. The effort has been affected by the large and dense population, and a slowing but still substantial birth rate (continuing to increase at 1.7% per annum, or 17% in a decade). Solar cooking has been viewed as one way to alleviate a number of India's problems and as such supported by government efforts.

Institutional solar cooking

The Press Bureau of the Government of India reported in 2007 that there were 525,000 solar cookers installed in India. The Press Bureau also reported in 2003 that, "The solar cooker programme has been expanded by introducing new designs for community use. Three solar steam cooking systems based on automatic tracking concentrating collective technology for cooking food for 600-3,000 people per day, and one system based on ‘Solar Bowl’ technology, have been installed. World's largest solar steam cooking system has been installed at Tirumala Tirupati. The system is designed to cook two meals for 15,000 persons in one day. Another system for 2,000 people was erected at Brahmakumaris Ashram in Gurgaon in July, 2002. Three community cookers for indoor cooking have been installed at a training hostel and an NGO’s establishment in Leh. In all, six such systems have been installed under the MNES demonstration scheme. A total of 500 dish solar cookers and 60 community solar cookers have been installed so far."

Archived articles

Climate and culture[]

Solar Cookers International has rated India as the #1 country worldwide for solar cooking potential. In the year 2020, the estimated number of people in India who will suffer from fuel scarcity is 157,400,000, but these people will continue to have ample access to the sun. In December 2007, the Indian Government instituted a program of rebates on various renewable energy devices including solar cookers. Solar cooking has even been recommended in the Rig Veda, a sacred Hindu text, stating: "All edibles ripened or cooked in the sun’s rays change into super medicine, the amrita."

India Solar Resource Map provided by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory

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Fuels used for cooking[]


  • LPG (47.96%)
  • Firewood (22.74%)
  • Kerosene (19.16%) and
  • Other fuels (10.14)


  • Firewood (64.10%)
  • Other sources of biomass – crop residue (13.10%)
  • Cow‐dung (12.80%)
  • LPG (5.67%) is now increasing in importance. [1]

In a February 7th, 2015 article, The Economist reported that there are roughly 1 million deaths in India each year due to cooking fires[2].

Fuel subsidies[]

The Economic Times of India reports:

While 300 million people live below poverty line, making do with energy inefficient dung cakes, twigs and branches, and occasional bits of coal, the urban middle class and the rural rich are splurging on cheap petrol and diesel and even cheaper kerosene and liquified petroleum gas.
The subsidy is massive - hidden by a disingenuous device called oil bonds. Here are some rock solid facts. IOC, HPCL and BPCL are currently losing $137 million a day (i.e., Rs 582 crore per day at Rs 42.50 = $1). They lose Rs 16.34 for each litre of petrol, and Rs 23.49 for each litre of diesel sold in Delhi.
The subsidy on kerosene at Rs 28.72 per litre is over three times the current retail price; and the subsidy on a cylinder of cooking gas at Rs 306 per cylinder exceeds the retail price. The total under-recovery for the oil marketing companies for 2006-07 was over $19 billion. With oil prices touching $135, under-recoveries can be $50 billion this year, unless retail prices are substantially increased.[3]

The Telegraph (UK) reported in September 2013 that, "Food and fuel subsidies are gobbling up much of the budget, while investment atrophies."[4]

Solar cooking already has a significant presence in India, especially with large-scale projects, but the potential largely remains untapped for its use to significantly replace the use of conventional fuels.

Cultural acceptance[]

In a report presented during the Asian Clean Energy Forum in June 2008, Soma Dutta, Asia Regional Network Coordinator for the Amsterdam-based ENERGIA International Network on Gender and Sustainable Energy, states that only 45% of India’s 70% rural population have access to electricity, and over 80 percent still rely on firewood as their primary cooking fuel, the gathering of which is a responsibility that almost always falls to the women and girls in a society. The long hours and significant effort spent simply gathering firewood leaves them little time for education or employment. [5]

Introductions of new technologies fail in villages for many reasons, but most commonly due to a lack of knowledge and understanding of local cultural customs. Solar cooking has often suffered this fate despite the purported cost savings because it is not introduced in a way that suited the lifestyles of the individuals using it.

A solar stove is most powerful at the times of the strongest sunlight, which is mid-day and early afternoon. As in many agricultural populations, village farmers in India consume their biggest meals by early to mid-morning and then again late at night, after the sun has set. In addition, certain solar stoves are not conducive to Indian-style cooking which is done mostly with oil (with the exception of rice) and requires frequent temperature manipulation as well as stirring and flipping which was is difficult with many solar cookers.[6]

While technical constraints limit the types of solar cookers likely to be widely adopted in India, there is historic precedent for solar cooking in Indian culture. A passage in ancient Vedic texts state, " Sun cooked food improves cellular health and longevity of life. It strengthens health and mind removes three major physical disorders to do with digestion, blood and respiratory system, balances inner body temperatures, life, glows aura and keeps various obstacles away. Sun cooked food has great medicinal value. It enhances intellect, genius." ' Rig Veda'. - Reference from the website. See: PRINCE

See also[]


Possible funders[]

Facebook groups[]

Blogs and newsletters[]

Project evaluations[]

Main article: Project evaluations




The entities listed below are either based in India, or have established solar cooking projects there:

SCI Associates[]


Manufacturers and vendors[]


Government agencies[]

Educational institutions[]

See also[]