Solar Cooking
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Last edited: 13 March 2024      
Vajra Foundation Nepal 2013 multiple
Bhutanese refugees demonstrating parabolic solar cookers in Nepal. More than 85,000 refugees from Bhutan solar cooked their meals in a refugee camp in Nepal. The Vajra Foundation Holland (Stichting Vajra) has worked in the Bhutanese refugee camps in Nepal since 1995 to bring solar cooking and heat-retention cooking to the refugees there. By 2013 some 85,000 refugees were cooking their meals using these methods. The on-the-ground work was done by Vajra Foundation Nepal and the financing is provided by the Dutch Lottery and the Dutch NGO Stichting Vluchteling.

Events[]

Featured international events[]

SE for ALL forum logo 2024, 10-3-23
  • Rescheduled to early 2025 (Bridgetown, Barbados): Sustainable Energy for All Global Forum - Building on Prime Minister Mottley’s Bridgetown Initiative for the reform of development finance, the Forum will address the challenge of how we can mobilize sufficient finance on the right terms to meet global goals, especially for the most underserved communities, countries and regions – such as Small Island Developing States. The event wil be co-hosted by Sustainable Energy for All and the Government of Barbados, led by Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley. More information...

Requests for proposal[]

  • Decentralized Renewable Energy Solutions utilizing Solar and Bio-Energy - Sustainable Energy Technologies and Assessments of ScienceDirect, is requesting guest-author submissions. The special issue, VSI: DRES is devoted to publishing research articles reporting the innovative designs and design interventions in solar thermal and bio-energy for decentralized energy systems (DES). It includes i) new and novel designs of prototype or commercial devices and technologies, their development, modeling and simulations and experimental validation; ii) innovations for processes, techniques, utilization, and applications; iii) novel use of materials for improving efficiency, performance, techno-economic feasibility, and sustainability and iv) research findings addressing the socio-economic, health and safety impacts, and life cycle assessments leading to proposing novel devices for DES. The Deadline for submission is 31 July 2024. More submittal information...
CONSOLFOOD 2025 logo, 4-28-24
  • The deadline for receipt of abstracts is 15th December 2024 - Advances in Solar Thermal Food Processing (CONSOLFOOD2025) is being planned for the 5th, 6th and 7th of May, 2025 in Marseille, France. The gathering expects to attract, once again, top experts from all over the world to present and discuss topics related to advances in solar food processing and solar cooking. An exhibition of solar cookers will be available for viewing during the conference at the nearby the solar restaurant Le Présage. The solar restaurant, along with the demonstration cookers, will produce a solar lunch. The whole conference program will be delivered in hybrid format, so those who register, but are not present at Marseille, will be able to participate online. Your abstracts should be sent via email to Celestino Ruivo at cruivo@ualg.pt in .doc, .docx, or pdf format. You should limit your abstract to 400 words, and follow these guidelines. All abstracts will be reviewed and assessed by members of the scientific committee. The organizing committee will inform each author whether their submitted abstract has been accepted. The committee encourages all authors to write an optional full length paper for inclusion in our conference proceedings. Successful authors should pre-record their presentations, using Powerpoint, or similar software. They will be invited to submit either a) a short presentation, of about 7 minutes duration, or b) a longer presentation, of about 25 minutes to cruivo@ualg.pt by 30th March 2025. The expected conference fee is 200 euros before 1st April 2025. Interested people facing financial difficulties should contact the organizing committee.
See also: Global Calendar of Events and past events in Nepal

News[]

  • NEW: June 2024: Saving the Vajra Academy - Maarten Olthof, founder of the Vajra Foundation, relates the exciting current status of the Vajra Academy in Nepal. He recounts how 7000 parabolic cookers were deployed to Nepalese refugee camps beginning in the late nineties, which virtually halted the deforestation that begun during the exodus of refugees from Bhutan. The Vajra Academy, a "Changemaker School" in Bajrabarahi, Lalitbur, was then threatened with closure after a major earthquake in 2015 destroyed a nearly completed eco-tourism development they were building. This event created a stiuation of financial jeopardy for the entire Vajra Foundation. In the following conversation with Luther Krueger, Maarten explains how the crisis was averted, and the school continues to operate and thrive.
Maarten_Olthof-_The_Vajra_Academy_Lives-2

Maarten Olthof- The Vajra Academy Lives-2

Allart Ligtenberg award photo, 11-10-22

Allart Ligtenberg award ceremony for the Service-Above-Self Award from Rotory International - Photo credit: Charles Lindauer/Rotary Club of Los Altos

  • November 2022: Service-Above-Self Award - Allart Ligtenberg received this recognition from Rotory International of Los Altos, CA, USA. With his wife, Ineke, he has repeatedly visited Nepal to share their knowledge of solar cooking. Through the years, they have made available hundreds of solar cookers to the countries' rural poor.
  • July 2022: Student training in Swostishree Gurukul, Nepal - Students of Grade -VIII attended an experimental and hands-on training session on ' Sustainable solutions of ever-growing energy and environmental crises in Nepal' organized by Foundation for Sustainable Technology at Thamel, Kathmandu. Managing Director Mina Maharjan herself, two teachers and twenty students benefitted from the session. Green technology entrepreneur and innovator Sanu Kaji Shrestha and his team of experts facilitated the session. We were delighted to know that the kind organizers had prepared the snacks that was served to us in green energy instead of fossil fuel. By the end of the session, participants gained theoretical and hands on skill and knowledge under the following technologies: solar cooking, solar cooker construction, solar water pasteurizing, solar drying, fuel-efficient stoves, heat-retention cookers, biomass briquettes, biochar, Waste management, and soilless gardening. The organizers also gifted a souvenir to each of the participant, which was made from the waste.
Nepalese group watch solar cooker, SCI, 6-10-21 copy

Nepalese citizens receive training in using a parabolic solar cooker. Photo credit: Sanu Kaji Shrestha

  • June 2021: Solar cookers and sustainable cooking equipment distributed in Nepal - With assistance from Solar Cookers International, approximately 300 people from especially vulnerable groups from communities in Kathmandu, Lalitpur, Bhaktapur, Kavre, Okhaldhunga, and Solukhumbu districts have received solar cookers, solar dryers, heat-retention boxes, and water pasteurization and safety equipment, as well as the necessary training. These locations in Nepal have limited local resources, and the new appliances help the recipients be better prepared for the challenges facing their communities. Read more in the SCI Summer 2021 Newsletter
  • January 2020:
FoST January 2020

Orientation and live-demonstration of the green energy technologies organized for Seven Women groups from Australia today by FoST.

  • August 2019: 
FoST at Akshar Foundation - August 2019

A group photo of the students, teachers and parents in Akshar Foundation after a training by FoST

  • January 2018: The Foundation for Sustainable Technologies(FoST) successfully completed two days of exhibitions (3rd and 4th Dec.) on green energy technologies at Nepal's biggest consumer center, Kalimati Vegetable Market in Kathmandu. Their two objectives were to convert energy sources available in the market complex into fuel cakes and tap solar energy for cooking food items and water boiling. They supplied boiled water to the doctors in the free health camp, and tea and snacks to the fifty people involved in the camp, which was jointly organized by the Lions and Leo Clubs, Women Empowerment Group, and Cooperatives.
  • November 2017: A FoST demonstration of solar and sustainable technologies took place on 16 October 2017 for the students and teachers of the Kathmandu International Study Center, Dhobighat, Kathmandu, Nepal.
  • May 2017: Contribute your data: Drive solar cooking results - Solar cooking contributes to long-term progress from cleaner, more efficient, sustainable cooking solutions worldwide. It is crucial to convey the positive health, economic, and environmental impacts of solar cooking to government agencies and other stakeholders. To help build this case, SCI is reaching out to all solar cooking partners. SCI invites your input in the form of data on baseline information, number and type of solar cookers, number of years of the project, location, outcomes, etc. With your help, we can work to include solar-thermal cooking in national energy and sustainability plans. You provide:
  • Number of solar cookers
  • Type
  • Location
  • Time period
  • Distributed
  • Sold
  • Manufactured
Submit your solar cooking data by filling out the simple form on the Solar Cookers International website or email info@solarcookers.org. Please submit to SCI by 1 June 2017.
FOST Locally made box cooker,1-26-17

Locally produced solar box cookers in FOST introductory project for the Lalitpur district. Photo credit: FOST

  • January 2017: Projects for the Lalitpur district - The Foundation for Sustainable Technologies, working with the SCI 4th Grant Program, have begun programs in the Devichour VDC and Panauti communities. Previously dependent on biogas and fuelwood. Both are rural villages. The projects are using both Chinese-made parabolic solar cookers and locally produced solar box cookers.
FoST parabolics at Tek Chok Ling Nunnery, Bauda, Nepal, 1-4-17

FoST representatives demonstrated parabolic solar cookers at the Tek Chok Ling Nunnery School in Baudha, Nepal. Photo credit: FoST

  • January 2017: Parabolic solar cookers demonstrated in BaudhaFoST founder Sanu Kaji Shrestha, with assistance from Kriti, demonstrated and provided parabolic solar cookers to the Tek Chok Ling Nunnery School in Baudha, Nepal. They boiled twelve liters of water and 12kg(26.4lbs) of potatoes in four hours for appreciative nuns. They project the nunnery can expect to save 30-40% of their gas consumption with continued consistent use of the solar cookers.
SCI-FoST Nepal 2016 training, 8-10-16

A group of single women participate in a 2-day solar cooking workshop in Kathmandu Valley, Nepal Photo credit: Kriti Shrestha

  • August 2016: Solar cookers help to empower local womenSolar Cookers International helped to coordinate a 2-day training project for single women, local leaders, and the community hospital in the use of solar cookers in Kathmandu Valley, Nepal. Solar cooking can free the women from hours of fatigue, drudgery, and danger while collecting firewood. Thirty parabolic solar cookers and seven solar dryers were distributed as part of the project. A single mother whose solar cooker was damaged in the 2015 earthquake has been able to reopen her 4-table solar-cooker-powered restaurant with assistance from SCI and project partner, FoST in Nepal.
See older news...

Climate and culture[]

Solar Cookers International has rated Nepal as the #12 country in the world in terms of solar cooking potential (See: The 25 countries with the most solar cooking potential). The estimated number of people in Nepal in sunny areas with fuel scarcity in 2020 is 6,000,000.

In Nepal, over 80 % of the total energy consumption comes from traditional energy resources. Biomass being the major contributing energy sector in Nepal, more than 75 % of the energy is supplied by firewood alone followed by 9.24 % from petroleum products, 5.74% from animal waste, 3.75% from agricultural residue, 3.53% from coal, 1.47% from electricity and 0.48% by renewable resources. The energy consumption pattern within sectors shows that residential sector energy consumption is more than 80 % while the agriculture and others are the least energy consuming sectors. According to Water and Energy Commission Secretariat report of 1995 carried out for energy end use perspective, it was reported that residential cooking alone accounts for 65%, space heating accounts for 8%, agro-processing 3%, water boiling 2%, lighting for 1% while others account for over 20% of the total energy consumption in rural household sectors. Biomass has thus been very important source of energy in the Nepalese perspective. With the recent emphasis on renewable energy, there are various opportunities for economic development using these renewable resources.

Patricia McArdle reports in February 2009 after her visit to Nepal:

I asked the women about their cooking habits and fuel usage. In some cases the men tried to respond for them, but I insisted on hearing directly from the women. Their responses and my observations were the same at each of the sites where we conducted training. They said they rise at 4 am to start their fires and serve sweet green tea to their families in the morning. The first heavy meal of rice, dahl, spinach and seasonal condiments is served to the whole family between 9 and 10 am. They extinguish their cooking fires around 10 am and start them up again at 2 pm to prepare afternoon tea and the evening meal. Sweet biscuits, buffalo milk and curd are also consumed in the afternoon since they require no cooking.
The second and final large meal is served between 6 and 7 pm and like breakfast consists of rice, dahl, spinach and seasonal condiments. The meals are served piping hot on metal plates. The women cook in large 7-8 liter pots, one for rice and one for dahl. Spinach is sautéed quickly in a shallow pan with oil and spices just before the meal is served. The women told me they use approximately 3 kilos of wood per day per person for cooking and heating water for tea. Wood currently costs 15 Nepalese rupees (20 cents U.S.) per kilo, a threefold increase over five years.
I did not observe any families using wood strictly for heating. The locations where we stayed were between one and two thousand meters and temperatures at night didn’t drop below 40 degrees F. Daytime temperatures were mild. Ugan said this region gets quite hot during the summer monsoon season (June-August). I told him that in some countries the rainy season still has enough sunshine at mid-day bracketed by morning and afternoon downpours, to make solar cooking possible. He said conditions vary greatly throughout Nepal with its dramatic and rapid changes in altitude, terrain and weather.
The women use cold water for laundry, bathing and dish washing. Although they complained of water shortages and are experiencing mild drought conditions until the monsoons begin in June, the villages have no indigenous systems for harvesting and saving the massive amounts of rain water that falls every year during the monsoon season.
Because of this area’s national park status, trees cannot be cut down at will, although I saw stacked logs and branches everywhere and many women carrying huge bundles of sticks down the road on their backs.

See also

History[]

Allart Ligtenberg (FAST)

Allart Ligtenberg, is the American name most closely associated with the introduction of solar cooking in Nepal. His small organization, FAST (Friendly Appropriate Solar Technologies), which was primarily Ligtenberg himself, dedicated endless hours to the cause. For a number of years, this engineer, retired from Hewlett Packard, would spend three months in Asia, principally in Nepal. His dissemination program is as simple as ABC, he states: A for awareness creation, B for building infrastructure; and C for continuous follow-up and creating new links. In Nepal, he began the task of visiting government officials, universities, voluntary organizations, embassies, service organizations, until he finally reached the office of the Centre for Rural Technology, Nepal (CRT). They struck up a collaborative relationship that has held over a number of years and been productive in promotion of solar activity. Ligtenberg carried with him cookers, recipe books, "how to" manuals, reference books, etc. and worked to create a comprehensive program of training new cooks, follow up, and promotion modes, program evaluation, etc. CRT staff took the ideas up with so much enthusiasm that he referred to them as the "champions of solar cooking" in Nepal. In the CRT program, a wide variety of cookers are shown and demonstrated in use, earning good media coverage and attracting wide public attention.

Trekking tourism

Special attention has been paid in Nepal to the remote lodges that serve trekking tourists in the Anapurna and other mountain areas. With the growth of the tourism industry, considerable environmental degradation was seen in the form of shrinkage of forests and their wildlife populations, excessive trash dumped on the trails, water pollution even at high altitudes, and signs of global warming. Renewable energy usage is strongly encouraged by the government, and many smaller lodges are now equipped with solar water heaters and solar food dryers. Solar cooking is a natural here. With high altitudes and thus little to impede the sun's rays, household size parabolic devices, or even larger ones, are very appropriate for these installations.

A number of such installations have been in use, as described by Dieter Seifert of EG Solar, the German distributor of these models. On trekking trails in the Mt. Everest area, in Sagarmatha National Par, and in a number of schools. The same type of parabolic was in use in Dhullikhel Hospital in Katmandu, where four such units provide hot water for patients.

Technology for Life

In 1994, an organization from Finland, Technology for Life, conducted a series of solar experiments and evaluations of their potential use in Nepal. They searched for devices which would fit the needs of "near-subsistence" economies such as Nepal. They tried box cookers and homemade parabolics but found the cost of these appliances was out of reach of many. Poor quality was not acceptable, and good quality was not affordable. Not a dilemma found only in Nepal, but a rather common scenario in other countries.

Foundation for Sustainable Technologies (FoST)

Another group is also at work in Nepal, has been the Foundation for Sustainable Technologies (FoST). The group is an NGO with the goal of widely promoting and disseminating sustainable technologies to improve the quality of life of the Nepalese people. They have supported a wide range of solar technologies and some others such as the haybox and improved combustion stoves. Quickly after their founding, some of the members were setting up demonstrations in various parts of the country. Their goals have been ambitious, and long range in nature.

Refugee projects with the Vajra Foundation

Solar cooking has also been initiated in refugee camps, which serve the large population of refugees from Bhutan. In one or more of these camps, a program funded by the Vajra Foundation initiated solar cooking introduction programs. The Project was run by a man named Maarten Olthof, who distributed 400 box cookers of the ULOG type (slanted top) in the camps. Working cooperatively with CRT (and Ligtenberg, also of Dutch origin), Olhof also worked in a rural area in the Katmandu Valley, near the capital city, conducting demonstrations and training. He hopes to involve more organizations, such as Rotary International, in these efforts.

IBEU group

Parabolic solar cookers are also known to have been promoted in Nepal by the IBEU group, which is located in Julich, Germany. The cooker they used in Nepal is one with heat storage capacity, accomplished with reflector plates, a steel vessel filled with pebbles, and vegetable oil as a heat transfer means. The devices are highly efficient, and retain heat for up to one day.

Substantial public awareness about solar cooking must continue to be advanced in Nepal, given the number of places in the country where solar cooking is possible. But solar cookers are hardly common sight, perhaps because the types of cookers in use are mostly on the expensive end and thus require some type of subsidy scheme to be available for to poor people. One niche, for solar cooking is almost certainly found in services for the tourist trade, since it both reduces cost to providers and reduces damage to the valuable environment.

Resources[]

Possible funding[]

Facebook groups[]

Reports[]

Project evaluations[]

Audio and video[]

  • NEW: June 2024: Saving the Vajra Academy - Maarten Olthof relates the exciting current status of the Vajra Academy in Bajrabarahi, Lalitbur.
Maarten_Olthof-_The_Vajra_Academy_Lives-2

Maarten Olthof- The Vajra Academy Lives-2

  • March 2023:
Maarten_Oltof-_Solar_Cooking_in_Nepal,_the_Vajra_Academy_Change_Makers_School,_and_an_Eco_Village-2

Maarten Oltof- Solar Cooking in Nepal, the Vajra Academy Change Makers School, and an Eco Village-2

  • November 2022:
James_Dean_Conklin-_Filming_"Family_of_the_Sun"-2

James Dean Conklin- Filming "Family of the Sun"-2

A documentary interview conducted by Luther Krueger, of the Big Blue Sun Museum of Solar Cooking, with James Dean Conklin, who since the early 2000s, has spent considerable time researching the development of solar cooking in India and Nepal

  • May 2018: 
FoST_Lapu_EN-0

FoST Lapu EN-0

FoST demonstrates production of biomass briquettes in Lapu Village in Nepal.

  • January 2017:
  • January 2017:
  • August 2014:
Humanist_Community_Forum_(2014-08-24)_Solar_Cooking_and_Other_Green_Technology_Projects_in_Nepal_(Allart_Ligtenberg)

Humanist Community Forum (2014-08-24) Solar Cooking and Other Green Technology Projects in Nepal (Allart Ligtenberg)

In 1992, Allart Ligtenberg retired early from his Hewlett-Packard engineering manager’s job to follow his dream of disseminating solar cooking/water pasteurization and other renewable energy technologies in developing countries. Allart started long-term solar cooking programs in Nepal, and each year he spends 2-3 months in Nepal to follow up on these programs.

  • July 2014:
Ligtenberg-_Nepal_Projects_Sustainable_development_One_Village_at_a_Time

Ligtenberg- Nepal Projects Sustainable development One Village at a Time

  • July 2014: Alan Bigelow's presentation "Solar Cooking on a Trek in Nepal" delivered at the SCInet convention in July, 2014 included the video below.
  • August 2013:
Allart_Ligtenberg

Allart Ligtenberg

Presented at Solar Cookers International's Shine On:2013 event, Allart Ligtenberg explains various solar cooking projects he has been involved with.

  • February 2010:
Solar_Cooking_Project_in_Nepal_by_Stichting_Vajra.wmv-0

Solar Cooking Project in Nepal by Stichting Vajra.wmv-0

Solar cooking project in a Bhutanese refugee camp in 2007 with [http://solarcooking.org/m.

  • January 2009:

Articles in the media[]

Disaster Assistance[]

Contacts[]

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

SCI Associates[]

NGOs[]

Manufacturers and vendors[]

Individuals[]

Government agencies[]

Educational institutions[]