Solar Cooking
Solar Cooking
Last edited: 22 February 2020      

The Bethel Business and Community Development Centre has built a prototype parabolic trough system that he is using to operate a steady cottage bread and pastry baking business. The device can bake 25-40 kilogram loaves (depending on the season) in a day (and even a bit more on a perfect day). It also does pastries beautifully. The solar bread baker works so well, that he has invested in a 20-liter dough mixer, which also operates off his house’s PV system.


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  • NEW: Webinar: Thursday, 11 November 2021, 1:00pm UTC: - Solar Cookers International will present a webinar showing how solar cooking helps to improve public health, and the health of the environment around the globe. As part of this year's COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland, it will take place as a side event at the World Health Organization pavilion. There is limited space available for those interested in participating in this free event. Register early.
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  • 22-26 November 2021: 2nd National Congress for Solar Drying and Cooking Food - An affiliated group of universities in Mexico will host an online conference relating to solar food drying and cooking, as well as, food safety and energy savings realized with minimal environmental impact. Participants can register to view the presentations, or apply for presentation consideration. The conference will be in Spanish. Registration information... - (English version)
  • 17-23 December 2021: Solar Cooking Awareness Week (Southern Hemisphere) - A loosely organized bid to acknowledge the fun and benefits of solar cooking. Show someone how to solar cook and share a meal.
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  • 24-26 January 2022: Fourth International Conference: Advances in Solar Thermal Food Processing - CONSOLFOOD Chairman, Celestino Ruivo, has announced an extended call for abstracts for the upcoming conference in January 2022, which is now planned to be an online event. Advances in solar cooking as well as solar food processing will be considered for inclusion. The event schedule and submission requirements are in CONSOLFOOD 2022 conference information.
See also: Global Calendar of Events and past events in Lesotho


The Sunstoves are ready to begin baking bread.

  • February 2014: Margaret Bennett reports on a SunStove training that took place earlier this month in Lesotho. The workshop was run by two ladies from Quebec, Canada, and funded by the Raging Grannies of Vancouver. Twenty-five sunstoves were set out with tiles to preheat with soup dishes placed in the sun on the group to warm the water/oil mixture for the Bohobe (bread) recipe. While the bread baked, we talked - repeating the lessons of the week and answering questions. Everyone is keen to dry fruit in the SunStove & we are excited to hear the results. Keke informed us that fruit buyers in Mohales Hoek pay 50 rand a kilo for dried fruit, so this could be an income-generator for some of these grandparents and children. Much thanks to Carol and Christine, trainers, solar cooks, and carpenters.

Parabolic trough cooker bakes 10 loaves of bread at one time.

  • April 2008: Ivan Yaholnitsky has built a proto-type parabolic trough system that he is using to operate a steady cottage bread and pastry baking business. The device can bake 25-40, 1000g loaves (depending on the season) in a day (and even a bit more on a perfect day). It also does pastries beautifully. The solar bread baker works so well, that he has invested in a 20 liter dough mixer, which also operates off his house’s PV system.


Early attempts to introduce solar cooking

A. A. Eberhard reported in the 1994 Proceedings of the Eighth Biennial Congress of the International Solar Energy Society, that a group of South Africans attempted to introduce solar cooking in the mountains of Lesotho. The project was not a success from Eberhard's perspective, confirmed by two others on their return from a Peace Corps assignment and academic work in the country. Their analysis of reasons, cast in terms of Rogers' 1983 theory on the diffusion of innovation, concluded, innovation basically cannot be introduced by foreigners. They then proceeded to discuss successful introduction of devices by others with foreign sounding names, like Yaholnitsky and Scott, that have in fact, been more successful. (Scott, though not a Basotho, was born there.) Their approaches to introducing solar cooking were very practical, such as teaching women how to cook the basic staple of the country, and using local people as aides and trainers. Perhaps all of this was a precursor to the current situation in Lesotho.

Bethel Business and Community Development Centre

The Bethel Business and Community Development Centre has been the center of solar cooking activity for this small nation. It is located in Moorosi, Lethotha The Centre, which began in 1998, provides adult education of many applied types, attempting to inculcate practical skills and teamwork in its young adult student body. The center has demonstrated by its own use, topics such as water resource development and utilization, improvement of rural infrastructure, enhancement of village design, solar energy utilization, and environmental regeneration. Some of the courses of study have given students professional training and skills; others are short courses for refreshing already learned skills and exposure to new ideas in the various fields. The campus included residential quarters for both the full time and the short-term students.

The unit that has focused on solar technology is called Solar Soft. Representatives of the group were present at the world meeting in Kimberley, South Africa. The design they were using was a box cooker mounted on a heavy pipe set into a ground base which allowed it to turned to follow the sun. (SCI personnel made certain they had a CooKit to take home and experiment with.) A small but steady demand for cookers, which were made by craftsmen at the Center, has been generated. Their strategy has been to target a better-educated, middle class audience, touting environmental arguments rather than fuel savings. They demonstrated that cookers can be sold to this audience. Students at the college prepared lunches every day of the school week using solar cookers. A strength of the program has been situating solar cooking firmly in the range of other solar and renewable modes of operating, thereby providing students with multiple and integrated lessons for their later life.

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  • January 2020:

Stromboli Solar Baked 29 January 2020

Stromboli being solar baked by the Bethel Business and Community Development Centre


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

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