Solar Bakery Information Exchange

Submitted by Fenni Shidhika and Helvi Ileka
Published 6 years, 2 months ago

Under the Southern African Solar Thermal Training and Demonstration Initiative (SOLTRAIN), partners are expected to transfer technology and exchange information. Namibia Energy Institute (NEI) in collaboration Lesotho’s Bethel Business and Community Development Center (BBCDC) demonstrated a solar bakery at the Windhoek Industrial and Agricultural Show (WIAS) at the beginning of October. The parabolic oven was transported from Lesotho and was on display for the whole week, with the main objective being to raise awareness from bakery entrepreneurs in the country in order for those who are interested in the solar baking to submit proposals for co-financing under the SOLTRAIN project as demonstration systems.

Freshly baked by energy from the sun

Another objective of the collaboration was for Namibia to learn from Lesotho on how to construct the solar bakery, so that Namibia can start designing and manufacturing their own solar bakery. Participants from Lesotho shared their knowledge by demonstrating how the solar bakery works by baking a variety of bread and muffins. Normal standard bread pans as well as traditional pans from Namibia were also tested in the solar oven and were found to fit properly. Malte Schien, an Intern student from Germany who assisted BBCDC in the construction of the solar bakery, shared this knowledge of constructing and operating the solar bakery with staff and interns of NEI, members of the public and members from the Renewable Energy Industry Association of Namibia.

Members of the public who attended the WIAS were amazed at how the solar bakery worked and how well it baked bread and muffins. The demonstration of the solar bakery was done in conjunction with a cook-off competition organized by NEI under the Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST). The competition was focusing on using different sustainable cooking methods including cookers using energy from the sun and wood efficient stoves. Various institutions participated in the competition and companies from industry such as Amusha Consulting and RDJ Consulting showed interest in knowing more about the design and manufacturing of the solar bakery. NUST and the University of Namibia students and lecturers also indicated that they would like to introduce the solar bakery at their institutions for research projects.

According to Namibian census data from 2011, the main domestic energy source for cooking was wood and charcoal. The census indicated that 86 % of all rural households and about 20% of all households in urban area were still using wood for cooking. Women and children do heavy work in gathering wood all the time, resulting in health problems and absence from school. In addition, traditional cooking methods cause health problems through smoke inhalation, especially in women and children. The introduction of clean cooking technologies to the communities will reduce some of these health risks and will improve the livelihood of people in both urban and rural areas.

In sunny weather conditions, the parabolic oven reached an ideal baking temperature of 180⁰C and took approximately 35 minutes to bake a batch.

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