ONE SUN - ONE WORLD
The Call for an Ecological Turnaround
More than 2 billion people worldwide have been using firewood for cooking. However, the northern industrialized countries, i.e. 20% of the earth's population, have been using too much of the planet's ecological capital, that is they are accountable for 85% of the global consumption of non-renewable fossile fuels. Global climatic change, as well as deforestation and soil degradation, call for the development of renewable substitutes for firewood, and a sustainable treatment of the environment both in developed and developing countries.
The Partners to the Project
After some hundred thousand refugees from Burma had penetrated into the poor south
of Bangladesh, and when the rest of the former tropical rain forest had been cut down,
the new ecological training center of Ukhia was planned by Bangla German Sampreety (BGS),
and with the help of the Fachhochschule Oldenburg/Ostfriesland/
Development of the Project
After the mobile system OSOW1 had been built and successfully tested in Emden on August 15, 1995, the first solar community kitchen in appropriate technology (OSOW2, 10/1995) was built in Dhaka at the end of that year and installed at the Ukhia center, south of Cox's Bazar. By now, three different solar reflector kitchens have been installed in Emden (OSOW1 and OSOW5 at the FH O/O/W; OSOW4 at the Ökowerk Emden in August, 1996), two operate in Bangladesh, another one may be built in Dhaka, one in Tangail, and two in Ithari, Nepal. Altogether, there are now (in 1998) more than 150 Solar Community Kitchens of the Scheffler-type in operation worldwide.
Some Technical Details
When we talk about the Solar Kitchen and the technologies pertaining to it, we refer to the "Solar Reflector Community Cooker" (SRCC), of the OSOW type, or the large Scheffler Cooker which is used in community kitchens. Normally an 8 m2 parabolic reflector concentrates the sunlight on a small secondary reflector under a 48-liter pot or a plate, thus producing up to 2400 Watt at the bottom of this pot. The reflector frame is independent of the geographical latitude - only the stand must be adapted to each location. Automatic solar tracking by means of a pendulum clock consisting of a bicycle chain and gears driven by a weight keeps the focus on the solar oven. Thus it is possible to cook for about 80 people, which means that about 100 kg of firewood per day can be saved. Provided the sun was shining, our cooker could be proved to operate according to the same principle in Emden (53° North), as well as at the equator (0°).
Apart from the technical details, also acceptance problems, socio-economic and climatic considerations, as well as improved fire stoves and other alternatives were taken into account. For this reason, we have been proposing kitchen sites with SRCC, Improved Fire Stoves (IFS), and also the use of biogas to cope with seasonal weather changes, like rain periods, or lack of sufficient direct solar irradiation. Acceptance of the cooker in the different countries with their different cultural backgrounds, different habits and conditions of life, requires certain adaptation concerning the technology and food preparation. Large reflector cookers for community kitchens (SRCC) should not be mixed with other types of solar cookers which often can only be used for single households or families. If acceptance of the cookers is the aim, a variety of problems has to be considered and we believe that by first introducing the SRCC in schools, orphanages, hospitals, NGO's, etc, it will be more readily accepted as the daily struggle for survival plays a lesser role in such institutions or organizations than is the case in many households.
Setting up, Operation and Maintenance of the SRCC
The intention is not to sell the SRCC to developing countries, but rather to have it entirely built by local workshops with locally available materials. This will be possible, because the construction is not very complicated as it is based on appropriate technology. Installations in Germany will be used for research and development purposes, as well as for demonstrations. We think that normally partnerships should be established between local organisations in the developing countries and OSOW, if an SRCC is to be built there by local workers for the first time. Such projects will be supported by at least one engineer from OSOW, who has profound experience with the construction and operation of the cooker. Afterwards, there will then be trained local personnel available for maintenance purposes and, if desired, for the construction of further SRCCs in local workshops or technical schools.
Instead of Acknowledgements
In 1996, there were many demonstrations of solar cooking with our SRCC in public, and many exhibitions. The culture group ANANDO from Bangladesh presented an outstanding combination of traditional dance and music in Emden. At the same time there was an exhibition of solar cookers, Bengal culture and development. The whole project became possible first of all due to the ecological training taking place in Bangladesh, one of the poorest countries in the world, but with a rich cultural background - known through the media over here only because of frequent floods and cyclones - and also on the basis of a wealth of experience with many social projects over the years, as well as with the installation of solar cookers in Africa and India by Wolfgang Scheffler. The many helpers and sponsors we have had, have contributed considerably to keeping the project going.
K.H. Weiler, Oct. 13., 1998