Cooking with PV in Ghana



Currently in Ghana, the majority of the cooking is done over open flame wood fires. This method of cooking is bad for two reasons:

  1. The smoke it produces is inhaled by the villagers causing health issues
  2. The smoke pollutes the environment much more the a traditional gas or electric stove
  3. But there are several more that you list below.

Currently our professor Peter Schwartz, and his team has developed a low power, highly efficient solar powered stove.

Cal poly Solar Cooker FB Page
Peter Schwartz Website

This stove is inexpensive, and relatively easy to build. Currently the Ghana government is attempting to distribute cook stoves and LPG cylinders to rural areas of the country, however while these might be efficient for cooking, they are not very practical because the LPG cylinders need to be refilled. This
The advantage of the solar stove is that there is nothing that has to be refilled.

So in moving forward in trying to distribute these solar stoves we have to solve three problems:

  1. How can we introduce this commodity to communities in Ghana?
  2. What is the best way to incorporate solar stoves into this society that is cost effective and benefits the people of Ghana both culturally and economically?
  3. How can we fund these stoves (aid grands, fund raising, micro loans)?
  4. How do we get the community benefiting economically from the manufacture, and installation of the stoves?

Cost Analysis:

Current Stove Design major parts and prices 10/11/2015:

Alternative stove:

  • The alternative stoves that are being distributed currently are powered by LPG cylinders.
  • In the U.S. a stove powered by propane costs $36.61
  • Propane tank costs $29.99
  • Fixed Cost :: $66.60
  • Variable Cost $16 dollars a tank Refill

$261.34 – $66.00 = $195.35 / 16 = 12 refills of the LPG tank tell the LPG stove equals the price of solar stove.

How the Solar Stove is built:

  1. A solar panel is hooked up to a heating element (the larger the panel the more powerful the stove — The faster it will cook)
  2. The heating element basically works as a resistor, and heats up the inner stove (in the case of the stove in the picture bellow the inner stove is a 5 gallon steel drum.
  3. The steel drum is heavily insulated and heats up do to the insulation. In the case of the stove bellow the insulation is just common house insulation.
  4. In the future : Student assistant, and project engineer, Nick (a member of the cal poly solar cooker club ) told us that he is adding on a temperature controller. This controller will go in between the heating element, and the solar panel.

Look at the picture bellow as a reference design, this photo generously provided by the Cal Poly Solar Cooker club and Professor Pete Schwartz, the driving force behind the development of the solar cooker design we propose to use.

Stake Holder Analysis

Stake Holder Interests at Stake Effect of Project on interest (+, -, 0) Stake Holder Importance (1, 2, 3, 4, 5) Degree of Influence(1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
Women They are the main people using the cook stove + 5 5
Men Lives in the house, inhales smoke, uses the stove for heat + 5 5
Children Lives in the house, inhales smoke, uses the stove for heat + 5 1
Other Family Members Lives in the house, inhales smoke, uses the stove for heat + 5 3
Ghanan Government Wants its people to be healthy, and wants to conserve its resources + 4 3
Natural Gas Resellers in Ghana Our currently profiting from the existence of natural gas stoves _ 1 2
Solar Panel manufactures If the stoves are a big hit they will see a increase in profits + 2 2
Health care providers They will see less people come in with smoke inhalation related health issues + 4 4
People looking to conserve the environment Less wood is burned, less global warming, less tearing down of trees + 3 3
Professor Schwartz wants to improve the world, highly interested in the technology behind the stoves + 5 3
Our Group want to help the world, and interested in the stoves success + 2 1
The world Less wood burning means less Co2 released + 5 1


Current Plan

  1. Educate one person in the village about the solar stove’s health, and environmental benefits. This person will be the first person in a village to get a stove installed. His/Her job will be to educate the rest of the village and “hype” up the solar stove to everyone. Their job is to establish demand for the solar stove before we are even ready to install them.
  2. Start to raise funds for the expensive components of the solar stoves, we have come up with three possible methods:
    • Micro – financing: We have the members of the village produce a Kickstarter like video, and upload it to a micro – financing website like kiva. This will entice the public to donate money, which the villagers can repay over time.
    • Carbon offset credits: You measure the amount of CO2 that using a solar cooker over a wood burning stove would save, you then sell that CO2, to a company like shell. The money that is raised could be used to purchase the solar panels
    • Pure Donations: We would exploit the goodness of peoples hearts, and get them to donate money.
  3. We uplift the community by paying locals to install the stoves (the stoves could be made out COB, Mud Bricks, Adobe), we also then continue to employ the same locals who we paid to install them to maintain them, and go out to other villages and install them there.

Before the end of the quarter

  1. We would like to make contact with a village leader/family and find out what they want. We Attempted reaching out to a contact named David Dyer, but unfortunately had no response
  2. Have a theoretical way to fund the development/production of these stoves in a sustainable way (hopefully in a way that benefits the community economically)
  3. Propose the plan to our contact, get his/her opinion and modify out plan as needed. (see above)

In the future after the quarter (in an ideal world)

  1. start to implement the plan we developed. We will think small. Focusing only on one family.
  2. once the plan we developed has successfully funded a stove, and the family is enjoying using it start to expand out to other families in the community
  3. Once the full community is on board, get the community to start to evangelize about the benefits of the stove. Hopefully, because they will have been using them, they can start to assist in the production/maintenance of the stoves

Ghanaian Culture

Demographics & Statistics

  • Household sizes range from 1 to 21 including the respondents. About 43.4 percent (male 30.6% and female 12.8%) of the respondents had their household sizes between 4 and 6. This was followed by the range of 7 to 9 with 26.9 percent. A percentage of 17.4 of the total respondents had their household sizes between 1 and 3. The rest of the household sizes, 10 – 12, 13 – 15, 16 – 18 and 19 – 21 fell below 10 percent as shown in the table below.
  • Cooking is typically done over an open fire and uses stones to support large pots. Guinea corn, similar to bamboo, is used as fuel, as firewood is scarce.
  • When cooking, it is done near the inside walls of the compound of the village or inside the huts. Solar cookers in this village would need to be located far enough from huts to avoid shade but not too far as to feel like an inconvenience.

Screen Shot 2015-11-04 at 1.46.32 PM.png

Diet & Cuisine

  • Staple foods: cassava, plantain, millet, sorghum, yam, maize, beans, sweet potatoes, cocoyam
  • Soups & stews: most Ghanaian dishes served with a stew, soup, or spicy condiment made from raw red & green chilies, onions, & tomatoes
  • Breakfast meals: fruits, tea, oats, rice porridge, fermented & roasted maize porridge, millet porridge
    • Bread: baked with wheat flour & cassava flour
      • Tea bread, sugar bread, brown bread, butter bread
  • Savoury foods: often fried, barbecued, boiled, roasted, baked, or steamed
  • Street foods: highly popular

Location of Agbokpa, Ghana:
Overview Map.jpg

Community in Agbokpa, Ghana:

Mother and Child on the farm.JPGNew roof on house.JPG
Typical house.JPGvillage life 2.JPG
Photographer: Nathan Heston

Potential Benefits from Implementing PVE Cooking

In Households & Communities

  • Miscellaneous Uses

    • Heating water for household chores
    • Preserving (canning) tomatoes & fruits
    • Sanitizing dishes & utensils
    • Killing insects in grains & other dry food staples
  • Societal Benefits

    • The implication of traveling long distances to collect firewood is that women and girl-children mostly responsible for fuel wood collection, have less time to spend on other activities and are exposed to the threat of wild animals, attack, rape and abduction when traveling far from their homes.
    • Increased understanding of household energy use has lead to the conclusion that solar cookers can also benefit users of commercial fuels in terms of monetary savings since it was recognized that general energy shortages in low-income households exist, especially to supply secure and adequate energy for cooking purposes.
    • We see solar cookers as a solution to fuel wood shortages but as a solution for poor households’ cooking needs, whether they were experiencing fuel wood-, paraffin-, gas- or electricity shortages—in short, solar cookers were viewed as a mechanism to increase fuel security in low-income households and to broaden choice in terms of energy options available for cooking.
    • Solar cookers can never be promoted as a single solution to the problem of cooking energy, but that a solar cooker should be viewed as an add-on appliance in a suite of cooking options available as part of the multiple fuel use pattern displayed by low-income households.
    • saving time (from gathering wood)
    • Impacts on poverty reduction
      • economic benefits from time-saving, if time is spent on productive, income-generating activities


  • Reducing Carbon Dioxide Emissions

    • This is a brief summary of how much carbon using a solar stove would save CO2 from entering the environment disregarding Two factors:
      1. Manufacturing a solar panel produces pollution. A Solar panel produces 50g of Co2 per KW Hour
        When a tree is cut down for firewood the carbon that the tree could have taken out of the environment no longer will be taken down
    • And Makes two Assumptions:
      1. That the wood be burned in the wood fire is from a tree that was cut down, and not a tree that fell down
      2. That the user has stopped all use of fire/enclosed flame stoves
    • Wood releases a average of 1.75 kg of CO2 per kg of wood (varies depending on what type of would you would use)
    • We Estimate that the average cook fire will use 10 kg of wood (22 pounds of wood)
    • One cook fire will there for release 17.5 kg of CO2
    • A single Family will have two large meals a day — Means average family cooking on a wood fire will release 35 kg of CO2 a day
    • Over a Year 35 kg * 365 =
    • 1 single solar stove over a year will save 12,775 KG of CO2 from entering the environment
    • 12775 kg of CO2 = 28164 pounds of CO2
    • Burning one Gallon of Gasoline releases around 20 pounds of CO2
    • One solar stove over a year will save the equivalent of the co2 released when 1408 gallons of gasoline is used
    • By 2016 U.S. Cars have to average 37.8 mpg
    • One solar stove over a year will save the equivalent of the co2 released when the average 2016 car is driven 53,222 miles
    • the Average American drives 13,476 miles a year
    • 53,222 / 13,476 = 3.95 years
    • 1 Single solar stove, over a year, will stop around the equivalent amount of CO2 from entering the environment that 4 years of driving a 2016 car releases
    • graphs 2.png
  • Conserving Natural Resources

    • According to the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), Africa is suffering deforestation at twice the world rate.
    • Ghana has one of the highest deforestation rates in Africa at over 2% annually
    • Domestic consumption of fuel wood in West Africa is estimated at 11 million tons per annum
    • Overexploitation of the resources is resulting in denudation, environmental degradation and scarcities for households dependent on the fuel
    • Average walking distances to collect wood between 5.6 and 9.6 km, headloads weighed on average 30 kg and people moved from collecting dead wood to cutting off green branches or felling trees: “Over the relatively brief span of the past fifty years, 200 of the 250 forests in KwaZulu have disappeared”. Karakezi et al. (2004)
      states that the average wood fuel collection trip in southern Africa is about 6 km while it can be as long as 10 km in Eritrea.

Potential Concerns & Issues

  • Adequate storage space for cookers
  • Theft within villages & communities
  • Cost of technology
  • Actual Long-Term Implementation & usage

The table below is from a survey, that asked families how much they actually used the solar stoves installed in their homes:
Screen Shot 2015-11-04 at 1.19.59 PM.png

Photovoltaic Electric Cooking Technology

Contact Info:

Peter Schwartz — Cal Poly San Luis Obispo —
Cal Poly Solar Cooking —

Project Group Members

Loren Dean
805 – 801 – 3879

Sara Nygaard
805 – 234 – 7526

Frankie Lara
619 – 623 – 1542

Edward Charles
760 – 274 – 7159