Thanks for consideration of the projects. Please find herewith reply to all
your queries, which you can discuss at appropriate platform.
1) What is the socio-economic status of the people targeted by the
popularization efforts in Project 1 and 2? Even if the popularization
succeeds, will these people be able to afford the parabolic solar cooker at
For popularization of solar energy project there is no specific group
which is targetted. With our experience in last 2 years when the solar
cookers, especially parabolic cookers are demonstrated in action like
running a solar canteen then the awareness level is better. We try to
demonstrate these cookers in public places whenever we get opportunity. Last
year we had 4 such demonstrations programme. Maharashtra state agency MEDA
has asked for subsidy of 100 parabolic cookers and multinational company
like Tata BP could sell only 33 cookers throughout Maharashtra while local
manufacturer M/s Essential Equipment could sell more than 75 cookers in 3
months and more than 50 in Dhule district. We understand this is because of
cheaper rates than Tata BP cookers and more because of awareness programmes
conducted by us. Our experience show that there are few people especially
from middle class families who opt for the cookers after such programmes.
Middle class people can afford this cost of Rs. 3300/-
For project of Aanganwadi Workers they do not afford this cost of Rs. 3300/-
and hence we need to subsidize it.
2) Why is the focus on parabolic solar cookers instead of box type
cookers, which are much cheaper?
Box cookers with 4 pots cost Rs. 1800/- to Rs. 2500/- and at present box
cookers do not have any subsidy from any Govt. Deptt. Time for cooking on
box cookers is 1.5 hrs to 3 hrs and it needs to be reset every half an
hour, which is main reason why box cookers are not very popular, even though
they were promoted on a big scale in eighties by govt. For a meal for family
Rice, Dhal & vegetables parabolic cookers takes 25 to 40 minutes which is
comfortable for many people. Also parabolic cookers increase capabilities
like frying, shallow frying, roasting etc. is possible. Its true that the
cost difference in the 2 cookers is much higher approx. Rs. 5800/- for
parabolic cookers and Rs. 2200/- for box cooker. But because of subsidy of
Rs. 2500/- on parabolic cookers the landed cost of the parabolic cookers
work out to be Rs. 3300/- and hence people prefer parabolic cookers than
box cookers. Because of its speed and capabilities it is closer to their
current cooking practices.
3) In the middle class (where most of the cookers have been sold), what
is the level of awareness about solar cookers? Does Project-2 also target
the middle and upper class?
Excellent. Our feedback indicate few surprising observations. Many current
users keep using parabolic cookers for the taste than the savings. Food on
solar cookers is much tastier than cooked on cooking gas. Some maintain
record of how much gas saved? Many are enthusiasts about trying different
dishes on these cookers.
Yes. Project 2 targets the middle and upper class also.
4) Who manufactures the parabolic solar cookers? Will the cost of these
cookers reduce if demand increases? If so, are there any cost estimates?
One of our member Mr. Rahul Kulkarni has an enterprise M/s Essential
Equipment, in Dhule. We provide all technology and technical support and
hence we keep a check on the pricing. As we want the systems to reach masses
we insist on keeping price structure reasonable. Tata BP with subsidy sells
the same cooker (even a bit inferior design than ours) at Rs. 5800 to Rs.
6500. While we insist the cost Rs. 3300/-. Its unlikely that the cost of
cookers will reduce with demand. The margins charged by Mr. Rahul, we feel
are reasonable. The material required are steel and reflector and in either
of the cases buying in bulk does not yield substantial discount (Not even
5%). We conduct free training workshops for new entrepreneurs and there are
3-4 people who have just started manufacturing or are in the process of
manufacturing. However their pricing is a bit higher (by about Rs. 500 or
5) What is the lifetime of the parabolic solar cooker?
Reflector life minimum 5 years. In areas where the pollution levels are low
or very low we expect the reflector life will be 7 to 8 years. The frame and
system can last for 15 to 20 years. As new materials are available the cost
of reflector sheets is coming down and replacement after 5 to 8 years may
cost Rs. 2000 or so. At present it costs approx. Rs. 2300/- per set.
6) What maintanance is required to keep the solar cooker in good shape?
What are the expenses for such maintanance?
There is no maintenance for these solar cooker. The reflector may need
replacement after 5 to 8 years as stated above.
7) How many days a year can the cooker be used and, on each day, what
percentage of meals are cooked using the cooker?
In most part of India these cookers can be used for 250 days a year for both
the meals. We expect fuel saving up to 80 percent for good users and up to
50% for moderate users.
8) Has a cost study been done in comparison with LPG, kerosene, and wood?
How many years does it take to break even, if the solar cooker is used
instead of LPG/kerosene/wood? (Questions 4-7 above were actually raised to
get an idea about this.)
No formal study conducted in this regard, but some conclusions can be drawn
from the discussion with the users and their feed back. Many do not keep
track record of use of cooking gas Vs solar cooker. However the saving as we
estimate will be as specified above. For good users the payback will be
within 2 years and for moderate users it will be 3 years. (Against LPG and
Kerosene). Wood is still cheaper and many times some children from family
move around in open land, forest land to get the firewood.
As the usage of the solar cooker is limited to 2 hrs a day for cooking, in
remaining period if some small enterprise is run on this cooker then
additional savings are possible. Possible enterprise are candle making, tea
making, bread making etc. In such cases the payback will be within 6 to 8
months. We know few families who have changed their life style a bit. They
heat the water on the cooker in the morning hour for bathing and save this
fuel cost also. In such cases payback period can be within a year.
9) What are the advantages/disadvantages of the solar cookers compared
If feasible biogas is always a better alternative than solar energy. Biogas
can be stored and can be utilized at will, which is not the case with solar
cookers. Biogas plant these days need @ Rs. 6000/- for 2 CUM capacity. It
requires space on ground floor, and it requires min. 40 kg of cow dung per
day. 2 to 3 cattle will be required per family. If the cattle go out for
grazing then only 50% dung is available and in that case 4-6 cattle will be
required. So not everyone can have a biogas plant. These days there are no
subsidies on biogas plant. We also recommend if biogas wherever possible.
10) Does the parabolic cooker position have to be adjusted during cooking
to maintain the focus point? If so, how is this done?
Yes the focus needs to be adjusted during cooking and a shadow indicator is
given on the cooker. Once it is adjusted while the pot or pressure cooker is
kept at the focus the sunlight hits the focus for about 25 to 30 minutes
before it gets defocused. By this time the food is ready. So practically no
extra visit is required to set the cooker. You set the cooker when you start
cooking and then you directly go to collect the cooked food.
11) Can the usual household utensils be used for cooking on the parabolic
Yes, but to increase the speed of cooking they need to be painted black.
Normally we use pressure cookers and you get whistle, very much like the one
when you cook on the cooking gas.
12) What are the safety issues with the parabolic solar cooker?
Not much. You don't need to put your hand or loose clothing around focus.
Always use dark goggles. Goggles are provided with the cooker.
13) Who are the aanganwadi workers? What is their economic status? Has
PRINCE worked with them before? Does PRINCE have any information about
their motivation level?
Aanganwadi workers are working in villages as you can say Govt. volunteers.
State Govt. pays them honourarium of @ Rs. 1200 to 1500 p.m. State Govt.
spends money for their training and constant updating. Their work is more
focused towards care of pregnant women, child care, diet and nutrition etc.
Our parent organisation Jankibai Trust runs a training college for
aanganwadi workers since last more than 12 years. Most of these aanganwadi
workers come for a refresher course for one to two months from different
villages in Maharashtra. From last one and half year meals and tea of these
40 odd participants( in one batch) is prepared on one solar cooker of 2 m
dia. So these workers get familiar with solar cooking during their stay
here. Their motivation level seems to be O.K.
14) How many domestic solar cookers have been sold by Barli Institute for
Development of Rural Women? What is the economic status of the families
buying these cookers?
Really no idea. Last march we managed to supply them 17 reflector sets. I
feel in a year they might be selling 50 odd cookers. The ladies and girls
who get training from them come from very poor strata and they do not afford
the cost of the cooker. Madhya Pradesh Govt. also not very keen on
realization of subsidies so these people land up with higher costs. They
pass on the cost burden of approx. Rs. 500/- to the beneficiary and raise
balance funds from donations.
15) Since Project-2 has also been submitted to MEDA in addition to AID,
what happens if approval comes from both?
For popularization of solar energy any amount of funds is inadequate. If we
get approval from both then there will be increase in number of programmes,
number of towns where these programme will be conducted. We can reach to
more number of people.
16) Some of us at AID-SD would also like to learn more about technical
issues in solar energy, and if possible, collaborate on finding solutions.
Any pointers/suggestions would be great.
You are welcome. I do try to reply to all types of queries I receive on my
email through known people or through our website. We give free training
programme for manufacturing solar thermal gadgets. If AID want to conduct
such workshops for their volunteers in other parts of India, it will help in
spreading the technology. We can impart training in Solar Cookers, Water
heaters, Vegetable and fruit dryers and similar heating applications. For
AID-SD volunteer who are not in India they can maintain contact on email and
keep in touch. Be assured all your queries will be replied.
www.solarcooking.org is an excellent site for the people who want to know