Last edited: 5 September 2021
The Fondo Mexicano para la Conservación de la Naturaleza (MFCN) launched the HotPot Initiative in 2003. Delivering HotPots and training communities how to use them, served as an effective introduction to clean cooking and provided an alternative to burning firewood in indigenous communities around the country. Approximately 20,000 HotPots were distributed in sixteen states of Mexico. Another 464 were purchased by MFCN and delivered by local partners, and 445 improved combustion stoves of various types were also delivered between March and September 2012. At SRL they believe that using the HotPot, together with fuel-efficient cookstoves, is the best option to improve cooking habits in Mexico. Read more at Sustainable Rural Life: Update 2012.
- NEW: 15-17 September 2021: Climate Chance Summit Africa 2021 - Registration is open to attend the virtual 3rd edition of the Climate Chance Africa Summit. Three days of sessions on key themes and sectors of climate action hosted by non-state actors engaged in climate change in Africa. There is no charge for attendance, but registration is required
- NEW: Friday, 17 September 2021 (10:30am CDT, 15:30 GMT): Homeschool program on solar cooking - The Syracuse-Turkey Creek Township Public Library, in Syracuse, Indiana, USA, offers online programs for homeschool students on Fridays at 10:30am. This program is described as learning to build and use a solar cooker. Read more...
- NEW: 5 October 2021: American made solar competition - The U.S. Dept. of Energy is sponsoring a a multi-part competition to spur solar manufacturing, develop innovative solar solutions and products, and create domestic jobs and opportunities through public-private partnerships. The contest is open to U.S. residents, and the final phase is still open for submittals until 5 October 2021. Much of the attention has been with photovoltaic solutions, and this last phase is structured with two tracks that focus separately on hardware and software components. Solar cooking equipment should qualify as hardware solutions. Read more about the competition...
- NEW: 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.
- 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.
- June 2021: Solar processed foods available near Oaxaca - La Sazón del Sol is located in the village of Tlacochahuaya, Mexico near Oaxaca. Victoria Aguilera, the founder, is interested in encouraging the use of solar energy to be part of daily life for local residents. She supports the area ecology, economy, health of the community, and also produces many of the solar dried foods herself. The facility operates a training center dedicated to women, and provides workshops at the Oficina Solar Tlacochahuaya in do-it-yourself construction of solar cooking and drying appliances. With a primary focus on solar food drying, they prepare a variety of foods for sale.
- January 2020: Scaling up Lorena Harp's Haines Solar Cooker Enterprise in Mexico - Solar Household Energy is currently supporting Mexican solar cooking expert Lorena Harp in her dream to bring solar cooking to the rural women of Oaxaca State through a sustainable social enterprise. Prior to launch of the initiative, Lorena conducted local market research and optimized the HSC for local consumer preferences. She then trained three rural women to become “solar cooking ambassadors” to sell HSCs for 500 pesos (about $25 USD) on a commission basis (earning 200 pesos, about $10 USD) to members of their communities and provide follow-up support to maximize adoption of this alternative cooking model. More information...
- October 2019: Solar Cookers Produce More Than Food for Mexican Women - Inter Press Service
- March 2019: During the second day of construction conducted by students of the Mount Sentinel school of Canada in collaboration with Techamos Una Mano and Gie Oaxaca, families of Teotitlán del Valle were trained and received a donation of Haines Solar Ovens.
- May 2018: Bernardo López Sosa is originally from the indigenous community of Naranja de Tapia in Michoacán. At 28 years of age, he is pursuing a doctorate in science in metallurgy and materials science at the Institute of Metallurgy and Materials Research of the Michoacán University of San Nicolás de Hidalgo. He studies how the advance of science does not always consider social implications. He participates with fellow innovators as a founding member of the Grupo Multidisciplinario de Investigadores Indígenas para el Desarrollo de Tecnologías Sustentables The group is experimenting with various thermal retention coatings for solar cookers, and providing demonstrations in rural communities. Read more at: Bernardo López Sosa, tecnologías para las comunidades indígenas - (English version)
- September 2017: Solar Household Energy has partnered with Lorena Harp to provide solar cookers to earthquake victims in Mexico, as well as launch a new solar cooker social enterprise in the country. The partnership will work to "carry out market research, optimize the Haines Solar Cooker and its pot for adoption by rural women, train solar cooking ambassadors, and help establish Lorena Harp's business, with the end goal of becoming financially sustainable." More information...
- September 2017: Researchers working at the Instituto de Energías Renovables in Mexico have developed a version of a solar box cooker offering an increased solar tracking positioning capability. This feature decreases the number of times the cooker needs to be reoriented to maintain maximum exposure to the sun. More information... - (English version)
- March 2017: Juana María Hernández Jarquín conducted a workshop for the Red Mujeres en Energía Renovable y Eficiencia Energética in Mexico City.
- April 2016: Kathy Dahl-Bredine reports: "We were finally able to do that solar workshop we had planned for last November [near Oaxaca]. It was a phenomenal success. We had demonstrations of six different models of cookers. We're going to meet again to build cookers, which will include different ones of those models. Everyone wants them and wants to invite more people." Read more in the March-April 2016 newsletter.
- January 2015: Assessing lasting impacts of HotPot projects - Solar Household Energy is revitalizing relationships with previous partner the Mexican Fund for the Conservation of Nature (Fondo Mexicano para la Conservación de la Naturaleza, or FMCN) to assess long-term project outcomes. FMCN has distributed over 25,000 HotPots in Mexico. Quantifying the lasting impacts of these projects will prove HotPot long-term adoption and durability, demonstrating that the HotPot is a viable clean cooking solution. Read more: Assessing lasting impacts of HotPot projects in Mexico - SHE
Most significant projects
- The HotPot solar cooker introduction in Mexico - Solar Household Energy (SHE), spent several years developing a solar panel cooker called the HotPot, a variation on Solar Cookers International's cooker, the CooKit. In 2003 SHE received a grant from the World Bank’s Development Marketplace to mount a HotPot promotion project in Mexico working with the Mexican nature conservancy, Fondo Mexicano para la Conservacion de la Naturaleza (FMCN). By July 2004, 2,000 HotPots had been manufactured and trucked to eight local conservation NGOs that had agreed to participate in the HotPot distribution initiative. Solar Household Energy may be the global leader in promoting solar cooking. The history of the HotPot project. Lesson learned: Quality solar cookers are appreciated. However, demand may not be able to be met without significant financial support.
Mexico has a rich solar cooking history, with several projects successfully implemnted since the early 2000's. Below is a summary of some of these programs.
Girl Scout leader Barby Pulliam conducted training programs for Girl Scout leaders and other representatives of NGOs in a number of cities and towns. Rotarian Wilfred Pimentel has also conducted a number of pilot programs in various cities. In some of those places, Rotary and Girl Scouts joined forces. A number of missions and other religious groups have promoted solar cookers in various parts of the country. One example is the Mission Mazahua, in Atlacomulco, which produced around 600 cookers. Several university faculty members have conducted research on cooking devices as well.
A large project originated in an unusual venue, a nature conservancy area, the Sierra Gorda Nature Reserve. In the spring of 2003, Louise Meyer of Solar Household Energy, Inc. (SHE, Inc.) conducted a training program to test user acceptance of a then new solar cooker called the HotPot. The device uses a modified CooKit design, initially of a plastic material then mental, as opposed to the cardboard of the CooKit. A black pot is enclosed within a tempered glass "greenhouse" instead of the plastic bag used in the original CooKit.
Within the confines of nature conservancies in Mexico, as elsewhere, trees cannot be cut down for use as fuelwood. Households living within the area thus must find other sources of energy for cooking. Therefore, the managing group of the Sierra Gorda site, the Grupo Ecológico Sierra Gorda, was delighted to explore the potential of solar cooking. The town of Purisima and a village, Mavi, were selected as the site for the initial training program. The Director of the Mexican Fund for the Conservation of Nature, Lorenzo Rosenzweig, partnered with SHE, Inc. to plan and implement this project.
Ms. Meyer traveled to Mexico, and conducted training for Sierra Gorda women, who were given HotPots and trained in their use over a two-day period. After the training, Ms. Meyer visited the women in their homes as follow-up for days of further training and coaching. The women were all interested in what others were cooking, and eventually a throng of cooks accompanied Ms. Meyer on most visits, enhancing the group learning substantially. Two women from the group were chosen for additional training in "how to teach others". The new trainers were again visited and coached in the art of training.
This pilot project, growing into a large-scale follow-up in other areas of Mexico, was among the winners of the 2003 Development Marketplace competition, an annual event held by the World Bank.
Sun Ovens International reports promoting both Sun Ovens and Scheffler-type parabolics in Cuernavaca and Mexico City. The parabolic portion of this work, conducted by the Grupo Scheffler de México installs large commercial and institutional cooking and water heating. The first institutional solar kitchen of Mexico (6 Schefflers reflectors of 10m2) was built in the Hidalgo State by Gregor Schäpers.
- Main article: History of solar cooking
Climate and culture
Mexico is the most populous Spanish-speaking country with over 100 million inhabitants. One-quarter of the population lives in Mexico City, the world’s largest city. Rapid population growth and industrialization in Mexico over the last few decades have put an enormous strain on the environment, economy and on individual health.
Less than 10% of Mexico’s native tropical rainforests remain today. These rainforests are limited to southeastern Mexico and are most threatened by subsistence activities—especially fuel wood collection. Fuel wood supplies 69% of the energy consumption in rural areas, particularly for cooking. As the supply of wood decreases it negatively impacts the lives of the people who depend on it.
For instance, women and girls are responsible for procuring fuel wood and they must travel farther from home as wood becomes more scarce. This task demands many hours and minimizes opportunities to attend school and participate in income-generating activities. In other areas, it is no longer feasible to gather wood. Families in these areas can spend 15% to 37% of their income on wood and/or gas.
In addition to the negative environmental and economic impact of fuel wood dependence, women and children suffer from health problems caused by cooking inside small, enclosed kitchens that often lack windows or other ventilation. They inhale toxic smoke for many hours each day, which can lead to pneumonia and respiratory infections, the biggest killers of children under five years of age.
Below are comments made by Kathy Dahl-Bredine on November 17, 2015 regarding the extent to which Mixtec families near Oaxaca, Mexico, who apparently have an ample supply of firewood to collect, continue to use their solar cookers:
After having done many solar workshops, I've always wanted to know the extent to which families are really continuing to use it. And after checking around a good deal, it seems to me that the technology is not really taking hold enough to change overall cooking habits. The participants are always very excited about the technique during the workshops, and I give them "homework" tasks afterward, which include teaching others to solar cook, et al. But in general they do not seem to be continuing it long term, and I've tried to analyze the reasons:
- Most of the solar cookers we use, including models being commercially made and sold, as well as designs we make on our own, are too small for an average family in indigenous or traditional communities. Generally extended families live and eat together, an average of 6-10 persons. The standard black enamel pots that we generally use hold enough for only a small family. The main exception to that is the "family size" version of the Ulog. We have made those, but they tend to be very heavy and a little unwieldy, so that's a drawback we haven't solved yet.
- In our own village and many of the others in our mountain area, there is plenty of firewood, so there isn't the urgency for fuel that exists in many places. I've often thought that some of those places in Africa, where apparently the Cook-it has really caught on well, one of the main differences may be the lack of adequate fuel, where people have to either walk long distances in unsafe areas, or spend part of their scarce food money to buy wood or other fuel.
- Also, something that is no doubt hard to fathom for all of us who were brought up on gas stove cooking, for people in this culture, there is something about the smell of wood smoke and a fire going that feels homey, familiar, and good to folks -- the warm and familiar sense of family, etc. Sometimes people even say that the food tastes better when cooked over a wood fire. (Although many folks also have said that solar cooked food has more flavor! I've heard that a number of times as a reason for not liking gas stoves. A few people around here even have small gas stoves, but they generally don't use them much - perhaps only when there's an emergency to get a fire quickly.
Besides the various types of simple solar cookers that I make with groups: Cookit, Windshield Shade Solar Cooker model, and others, my husband, Phil, and the teenagers he has trained in carpentry, make the Ulog box cookers. We're searching for a way to make a good reflector for that model, also a better version of the larger, family--size one. I keep thinking we need to find a way to make something as efficient as the Sun Oven. My son gave me one, and I use it nearly all the time. None of the ones we've ever made can measure up to that efficiency. And here in these mountains, known as "país de las nubes" (land of clouds), it is often at least partially cloudy, so a very efficient cooker would encourage folks to use it more. We need to find a way to make good extra reflectors. As models to use with the local people, we are committed to using only cookers that we can make locally, so as to be sustainable.
- Wikipedia article on the climate of Mexico
- Mexico Energy Situation - Energypedia
- Solar cooker dissemination and cultural variables
- Cocineros Solares
- NEW: Red Mexicana de Secado y Cocción Solar
- Cocina Solar México
- Solar Household Energy
- La sazón del sol-Solar Súper Foods
- April 2019: The Ambassador-Led Social Enterprise in Oaxaca, Mexico: Sustainably Spreading Solar Cooking in Rural Communities - Solar Household Energy
- January 2017: Adopción tecnológica sustentable de cocinas solares en comunidades indígenas y rurales de Michoacán - M. González-Avilés
- August 2006: Nogales, US-Mexico Clean Air Report Excerpts August 2006 - Report for the Thermal Construction and Alternative Heating and Cooking Technologies Project that outlines research conducted to assess the air quality along the US-Mexico border. Solar Household Energy collaborated with the research team to introduce solar cookers into the cities being studied.
- Main article: Project evaluations
- January 2017: Adopción tecnológica sustentable de cocinas solares en comunidades indígenas y rurales de Michoacán - M. González-Avilés
- January 2017: Production of Solar Processed Food in Search Alternatives in Nutrition, Conversation, Diversification and Valorisation of Resources in Oaxaca Mexico - Victoria Aguilera Velazco
- January 2017: If No One Copies it or Tries to Steal It—Is It Worth Nothing? State of the Art of Small Automatic Parabolic Trough Steam Systems for Food Processing - Michael Götz
- November 2014: Desarrollo, implementación y apropiación de cocinas solares para el medio rural de Michoacán - Una alternativa energética para la conservación de recursos forestales maderables - M. González-Avilés, Bernardo López-Sosa, et al
- February 2013: Kit Para Cocina Solar - Xuni
- January 2009: CHOCOSOL- An Experience of Producing Joy Without Generating Malice - Aline Desentis Otálora
- January 2009: Agave syrup production – a sweet tradition goes solar - Gregor Schäpers
- July 2006: Una entrevista con Mariana Díaz del Fundo Mexicano para la Conservación de la Naturaleza (FMCN) - (English version)
- August 2006: Report on the use of HotPot solar cookers to reduce air pollution from cooking fires in northern Mexico
- Recetario de Olla Solar
- Cocina Solar, alternativa energética sustentable Modelo matemático y construcción física - Bernardo Sosa
- Cocinas solares: alternativa energética para el medio rural Desarrollo, implementación y apropiación - Bernardo Sosa
Articles in the media
- June 2021: 71-Year-Old Mexican Man Builds Solar Stoves Out Of Reused Materials - Intelligent Living
- September 2019: Mexican Women Use Sunlight Instead of Firewood or Gas to Cook Meals - Inter Press Service
- April 2019: Mexican student develops cactus capsules to purify water, with the aid of a solar cooker - The Yucatan Times
- May 2018: Bernardo López Sosa, tecnologías para las comunidades indígenas - (English version) - Conacyt
- July 2017: Solar cooking, sustainable living - The Taos News
- Summer 2005: Mexican Straw Weavers in Mixteca Region of Oaxaca Learn to Solar Cook - Weave A Real Peace Newsletter
Audio and video
- October 2019:
- May 2013:
- June 2012:
- February 2010:
- February 2009:
The entities listed below are either based in Mexico, or have established solar cooking projects there:
- Main article: Solar Cookers International Association
- Border Partners
- Cocina Solar Mexico
- Fondo Mexicano para la Conservación de la Naturaleza
- Friendly Appropriate Solar Technologies
- La Sazón del Sol
- Oficina Solar Tlacochahuaya
- Red Mujeres en Energía Renovable y Eficiencia Energética
- Rotary Club of Fresno
- Rotary Club of Tapachula Centenario
- Solar Household Energy
- The Nature Conservancy
- Via Organica