What can be used instead of firewood?
Firewood needs many years to grow. The leaves of the trees are collecting the light of the sun and the roots of the tree are borrowing some elements and water from the fertile soil to store the sunlight energy in the trunk. Trees don't take anything from the ground, they only borrow! When wood is burned, the collected sun light becomes hot fire, the water is given back to the clouds and what was borrowed from the soil becomes ashes and can be used again. The same is valid for all plants and animals.
- So wood is mainly sunlight, collected over many years!
We might use earth oil products (like gas, fuel, diesel, kerosene, plastic material) or coal instead of wood. But earth oil and coal is made by nature out of trees, plants and animals.
- So gas, fuel, kerosene and coal is collected sunlight, made over millions of years!
We might use electricity for cooking instead of wood. Electricity is made by a generator driven by earth oil products, coal, water or wind forces. But all the power for electricity comes from sun light! Sunlight heats the air, producing wind and storm, sunlight lifts the water into the clouds, wind brings the rain to the mountains and water uses the power flowing down the mountains or gives the power to a turbine producing electricity.
- So also electricity is always made out of solar energy, --- it is collected sunlight.
All life and movement on the earth surface will immediately stop if the sun stops shining. All energy for life on earth comes from the sun. In fact all sunlight shining on Ethiopia brings more energy than all the electric energy all people on earth are using!
- So why not use sunlight energy directly for cooking, why burn the treasures of nature?
Sunlight is a free gift of God for everybody, for humans, animals and plants. Nobody has to carry heavy loads to collect it, it needs no time or water to grow. There is plenty of sunlight here in the south of Ethiopia even in the rainy seasons, nobody has to wait a long time for it.
Using solar energy directly for cooking would immediately help to reduce the need for fire wood. Solar cooking helps to fight deforestation and can improve living conditions at the same time, even in very remote areas. If cooking just using sunlight is possible and people become accustomed to the use of solar cooking, then people could use their time more usefully than for gathering firewood, and Ethiopia would get the chance to become green again, saving nature for a brighter future.
Can this idea ever become true?
Yes it can! A simple solar cooker can be made from a carton and aluminum foil (available in Addis) for less than 30 Birr! This simple cooker needs between 3 and 6 hours for cooking a meal and the way of cooking has to be different from the traditional way. But the energy is for free.
The Solar Initiative at AWTI has developed a high tech parabolic solar cooker based on the SK-14-cooker developed by the German EG-SOLAR e.V. which is more expensive but also much more effective than other cookers! This cooker can be used nearly in the same way as for cooking on firewood. It provides a cooking energy of about 600 Watt and all Ethiopian Wot's can be prepared on it in the usual way. Even making (small diameter) Injerra is possible and it takes only 8 minutes for one liter of water to boil!
For only about 600.- Birr (80 US $) it will save a lot of money and firewood for the next ten or twenty Years!
One solar cooker can meet the daily cooking needs of up to 20 people. Instead of buying firewood, one solar cooker can save about 30.- Birr per week. That means at least more than 1000.- Birr per year could be saved by using the cooker instead of buying fire wood.
Everybody who no longer has to buy fire wood will at least save a lot of time, his health and the beautiful nature of Ethiopia.
Using a solar cooker can help as well with another big problem in some regions: the lack of healthy drinking water. If there is no clean water available, people drink contaminated surface water, which may lead to diseases or even to death. Due to high energy consumption, it is often not possible to boil this water before drinking, which would improve the health situation. But with one solar cooker it is possible to sterilize more than 50 liters of drinking water per day without extra cost or impact on nature!
The cooker is also ideal to distill alcohol from organic matter. This means it can not only be used to produce caticalla but also to distill fuel to be used for light and kerosene stoves.
- All prices and Birr-value as of 1998
- Caticalla in Ethiopia, Changa in Uganda, and Liga Liga in Tanzania are all names for the same alcoholic drink made mainly from maize husk