Solar Thermal Cooking: an open opportunity for scaling clean cooking
Thursday, 02. November 2023
5:00 to 6:30pm (IST)
The Workshop duration is 1:30 hours.

Solar Thermal Cooking: an open opportunity for scaling clean cooking

Solar thermal cookers are appliances that directly transform sunlight energy to heat energy for cooking food and pasteurizing water so that it is safe to drink. They are a viable approach for clean cooking anywhere in the world where people have access to sunlight, and they are particularly beneficial for the approximately 2.4 billion people currently cooking with polluting fuels such as firewood and charcoal and looking for a way out of energy poverty. Solar cookers can transform the lives of women and girls who are typically tasked with accessing firewood and daily tending to cook fires. Solar cookers are available commercially and one can build their own by using open-source designs. There are numerous designs of household-level solar cookers that can be categorized by types: solar box oven, reflective panel solar cooker, parabolic reflector, evacuated-tube solar cooker, and solar cookers based on Fresnel optics. Furthermore, institutional solar steam cooking systems in India can cook for over 10,000 people/day, which showcases an aspect of scalability for the solar cooking sector. 

Solar Cookers International, a non-profit organization and a leading advocate and resource, has tracked 4+ million solar cookers around the world thus far. This number of solar cookers suggests that ~14.3 million people have been directly impacted by solar cooking and, over the lifetime of these solar cookers, over 30 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions are prevented. 

Solar cooking advocates, entrepreneurs and practitioners will provide a general overview of solar thermal cooking as a learning opportunity for audience members. Speakers will highlight their experiences building capacity in the solar cooking sector – specifically in India and Kenya – and stress the importance of advocacy and research (performance metrics and evidence-based results) through engaging discussions to inspire audience members to understand and participate in the solar cooking movement. 


Dr. Mrs. Janak Palta McGilligan, Director Jimmy McGilligan Centre For Sustainable Development; Global Advisor, SCI

Dr. Mrs. Janak Palta McGilligan is a leading voice for women's empowerment and solar cooking through sustainable community development in India. She has devoted over 30 years of her life to studying issues related to rural and tribal women, a group that wields the least power in the social order of the country. She has created, sustained, and managed institutions that help these women become agents of social change. 

Janak Palta McGilligan is a Padma Shree Awardee and Director the of Jimmy McGilligan Centre for Sustainable Development.  She is also a Co-founder of Jaivik Setu, the National Coordinator for the Solar Food Processing Network India. The Jimmy McGilligan Centre for Sustainable Development has trained more than 40,000 students in sustainable development.

She was the Director of the Barli Development Institute for Rural Women Indore from 1985 to 2011, which trained more than 6000 tribal girls and young women from 500 villages of India in solar cooking and food processing and installed 500 SK 14 solar cookers in Indian villages. In her lifetime spent mentoring tribal girls, Dr. McGilligan understood the impact of good training.

Dr. McGilligan is a Solar Cookers International (SCI) Global Advisor. She received the SCI Order of Excellence award in 2018 for her dedicated efforts on the 6th SCI World Conference 2017 organizing committee. Hundreds of people from around the world came together to share solar cooking knowledge. Dr. McGilligan joined the SCI United Nations advocacy team to advocate to government leaders at events such as the High Level Political Forum for environmentally friendly, clean, sustainable solutions including solar cooking.

Dr. McGilligan is a leading example of the impact one woman can have when one believes in a cause and takes action. Dr. McGilligan's innovations expanded to a solar tea stall. There are millions of tea stalls across India. Using clean, sustainable solar energy for power to make tea creates enterprise opportunities and reduces air pollution.

Deepak Gadhia, Chairman, Sunrise CSP India Pvt. Ltd.; Trustee, Muni Seva Ashram; Global Advisor, SCI

Mr. Deepak Gadhia is the Chairman of Sunrise CSP India Pvt. Ltd. which is bringing an innovative BIGDISH system as the world's largest solar thermal concentrator to India. He has been a manufacturer of Scheffler concentrators and steam cooking systems, parabolic cookers, and more. He engineered and helped create large arrays of Scheffler concentrators for institutions, one of which at Tirupati, India, solar cooks 30,000 meals per day. He now mentors and supports many start-ups in CleanTech sectors.

Mr. Deepak Gadhia has received many awards and global recognitions, the latest being the prestigious EuroSolar Award on 23 Feb 2023 in Rome. He travels extensively to share his work and hold workshops to create awareness and train people and on various committees to promote Solar and sustainability.

Deepak Gadhia has moved to the Muni Seva Ashram, serves as a Trustee there, and looks after renewables and sustainability of the Ashram.  

Mr. Gadhia was a board member at Solar Cookers International in 2012.

Moderator: Alan Bigelow, Ph.D., Program and Science Director, Solar Cookers International

Alan Bigelow, Ph.D. joined Solar Cookers International (SCI) in 2016.  He is SCI's Program and Science Director. He leads testing and performance evaluation programs at SCI and advocates for solar-thermal cooking at the United Nations.

Alan is a physicist and a solar cook. He has led solar cooking workshops locally in New York and internationally in India, Nepal, Haiti and Kenya. He participated in a solar expedition in Nepal where during nine days at high altitude all meals were prepared using portable solar cookers. He designed solar-energy workshops as a Scientist-in-Residence at the Hudson River Museum and he included solar cooking in a course on sustainable engineering he designed and taught at Columbia University’s Science Honors Program.

Prior to joining Solar Cookers International, Alan had a 15-year physics research career at Columbia University Medical Center developing innovative technology for radiation-biology studies. He has authored numerous peer-reviewed journal articles and is listed as an inventor on patents for safe sterilization methods that use a specific range of ultraviolet light, far-UVC light, to selectively damage bacteria and viruses while not harming human cells.

Alan received a Ph.D. in Physics in 2000. He is a Climate Reality Leader trained by former Vice President Al Gore. He has expertise in designing and using off-grid solar photovoltaic (PV) systems and completed the entry-level photovoltaic course and exam offered by the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP). He is also an accomplished musician and co-founded a solar-powered eco band that combines science and music to raise awareness and educate about environmental issues and solutions. He is often solar cooking at home or in public. Languages: English, French, Thai, Hindi.