Soaring Heat In the Kitchen, Abundant Solar Outside
Temperatures reached a record 47c/116F in Sydney, Australia in January. But the second shock was the spike in cost of gas and electricity. The sun burns bright overhead while people turn on the air-conditioning in their kitchen. Despite the impressive range of affordable solar cook-tops and ovens, few people use solar ovens. What is really holding this technology back?
Super Solar Ovens
Worlds largest solar cooker feeds 20 thousand people per day.
Cheap as Chips
Solar Ovens are dirt cheap. Well, almost. They are as cheap as straw (for insulation), two panes of glass and a a sturdy box. They are popular in countries such as India because they are clean and free to run. You don’t need a chimney, fossil fuels or cow dung to fuel it. A Solar oven wastes nothing – the slow cook version does not waste a single drop of water or spice. The nutrients and flavours are sealed in.
Our first solar oven cost more in shipping than in the actual price. Seems we were ‘first wave’ solar-cookers in our shady village. (It seems were both first and last wave too). We paid about $250 18 years ago – at that price each meal cooked has cost less than 5 cents. If you are off-grid, this technology can pay back in just a few uses.
We now have a handful of different versions including the dangerous parabolic which burnt a hole in a wooden planter [photo below], a lightweight portable and the tubular baker. But I still prefer the old faithful that has survived being caught in the rain and filled up with water.
Solar ovens are durable, free to run, simple to make and easy to use and repair.
Best of all solar cooked food is flavoursome and nutritious.
Our Cultural Addiction to Piped Energy
Whilst ever we depend on a switch and convenient appliances, we are dependent on large scale innovation. If we step outside to try new technologies in the raw we get the chance to fuel our creative side.
The more powerful versions of this technology are rough, hot and glaring. But here is a great opportunity for the modern celebrity chefs and entrepreneurs to cook up a brighter future for everyone.