An innovative “solar cooker bike,” launched by Nedbank in partnership with the Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa (WESSA) and Sunfire Solutions, aims to introduce a sustainable way of clean energy cooking to communities in Soweto.
The energy efficiency project; which is a pilot exercise that could lead to a much bigger future rollout; combines the cooking power of reflected solar rays with the mobility of a bicycle and an attached trailer.
Nina Wellsted, Environmental Sustainability Manager at Nedbank, says “As part of our far-reaching Caring for Communities Programme, Nedbank is sponsoring seven solar cooker bikes which will be donated to seven Dobsonville recipients comprising five street vendors, Boikanyo Primary School and the Dorothy Nyembe Education Centre. This is a proud milestone for our programme at a time where the provision of energy needs to evolve to meet the demands of our nation.”
SunFire Solar Cookers have a lifespan of around 10 years and work by concentrating sunlight to a focal point reaching in excess of 200 degrees Celsius on a clear and sunny day. The SunFire Series Parabolic Solar Cookers compose of six reflective panels that concentrate sunlight to a central focal point.
The cooker has a pot stand that can house black pots or frying pans absorbing enough heat to Braai meat or boil water (meaning they can also generate clean drinking water if need be). The cookers can cook for up to 30 people at a time and boils a Liter of water in 4 minutes which is as fast as an electric kettle without harming the environment.
Importantly, comprehensive training on the assembly and the use of the solar cookers, which have been manufactured by Sunfire Solutions is being provided to this community.
By placing the solar cooker on a trailer that is hooked up to a bicycle, the “solar cooker bike” is created, enabling users such as street vendors to cook food in an environmentally responsible and cost effective manner that is combined with incredibly useful mobility.
“We see this project as a brilliant way of extending our Caring for Communities and Saving our World programme that transfers projects and knowledge to needy communities, including vegetable tunnels and rainharvesting tanks,” said Wellsted.
“Through this ongoing programme we assist schools and communities to save resources such as water and electricity and to generate healthy food and nutrition in a sustainable way.”
Nedbank has had a strong partnership with WESSA in taking its sustainability to schools and communities and believes that the “solar cooker bike” has great potential for introduction into other parts of South Africa.
Commenting on behalf of WESSA, Claire Warner, education manager for the northern areas region, said the Dobsonville launch will provide the platform for a focused introduction of the concept that is aimed at encouraging the use of solar power as a cleaner alternative in our energy mix.
“There is also huge educational value in this project, practically demonstrating to young people and adults how the power of the sun can be harnessed to do more than just heat water through solar panels.”
Crosby Menzies Founder of SunFire Solutions says, “It is projects like these that allow SunFire to explore and expose technologies which can have immense benefits for the two billion people who are still reliant on firewood for their daily cooking energy source. This concept allows families to save on electricity or paraffin costs while also helping reduce harm to the environment.”