The potential of solar electric cooking in sub-Saharan Africa

Many households in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) rely on wood fuel and biomass for cooking. These fuels are not without consequences for health and the environment. Indoor air pollution from these traditional cooking technologies and practices leads to several deaths each year. Clean and smokeless cooking technologies are needed to minimize respiratory infections associated with traditional cooking technologies.

In this study, a new solar powered electric cooker with diodes as a heating element was built and tested in the city of Kumasi, Ghana. It is a pressurized solar electric cooker (PSEC). The PSEC consists of a solar panel of 150 Wp, a cooking volume of 3.3 liters and the system has a thermal energy storage. The experiments conducted in this study showed that the diode heating element was able to provide an average temperature of 118 °C to cook rice. Rice is a common staple food eaten in many households in SSA. The result showed that when the energy storage medium was fully charged, the PSEC had a fast boil time of 50 minutes. Financial analysis also showed that the PSEC could save users hundreds of dollars over a 10-year period, compared to cooking with charcoal and mains electricity, respectively.

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