MECS-LEIA round 1 awardee profiles

Burn Manufacturing USA LLC

Project title: Electric Pressure Cooker development for Kenyan and Sub-Saharan Africa market

Outline: Development and piloting of ‘guaranteed perfect meal’ electric pressure cooker features for the revolution of the electric cooking solution in Kenya and Sub-Saharan Africa.

Location: Kenya, Sub-Saharan Africa

Summary:

Burn is poised to capture a vastly underserved market in Electric Pressure Cookers (EPCs) within Kenya and Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). With 470 million expected to gain access to electricity by 2030, there is an enormous opportunity to provide a low-cost and low-emissions electric cooking solution. Currently, urban households in SSA spend £15.6 billion on charcoal each year and this is expected to double by 2030. EPC could displace 100% of urban charcoal consumption where there is electrical access. Not only could EPC save billions of pounds in energy costs but, by displacing traditional biomass – which is responsible for 25% of Black Carbon emissions and 52% of forest loss in SSA – could help avert an unfolding economic and environmental catastrophe.

Burn intends to develop a new and revolutionary EPC technology, that will benefit all income groups and improve health outcomes and prevent environmental degradation. An EPC can delivery 78% cost reduction for cooking traditional foods, while reducing cooking time by up to 75%. The average Kenyan household currently spends about £0.78/day on cooking fuels while an EPC can do many of the same tasks for £0.20. This makes the payback period for the technology within 4-5 months, when EPCs perform the majority of cooking tasks. Unfortunately, current EPC designs are not adapted to the current challenges of the SSA grid, such as brown outs, black outs and inconsistent voltage. Burn has identified several key technological features to accommodate for this weak and grid context. Burn will build on its current 23 home pilots and develop these ‘guaranteed perfect meal’ EPC features thereby preparing for the commercialization of a revolutionary, made in Kenya, electric cooking solution.

EarthSpark International

Project title: On- and Off- (micro) grid electric cooking: field data for integrated energy access in Haiti.

Outline: Undertaking an early stage feasibility study of microgrid connected electric cooking technology in rural Haiti.

Location: Haiti

Summary:

EarthSpark International, SparkMeter, Inc., and Mr. Doug Danley are partnering in a research project that will general real-world data on both on- and off-(micro) grid electric cooking. Leveraging EarthSpark’s field experience and microgrid operations in Haiti, the consortium will run a trial of electric cooking devices (induction cooktops and electric pressure cookers in 10 off-grid and 20 on-grid sites). Each cooking station will be paired with a low-cost, high-functionality smart meter which will generate detailed cooking consumption data. For the on-grid devices, EarthSpark will be assessing how novel time-based load limiting will ensure grid stability while offering large numbers of customers the opportunity to reliably use large cooking loads. On-grid devices will be powered by Mr. Danley’s complete off-grid PV+ storage cooking solution so that users may cook at any time of day convenient to them.

Fosera Solarsystems GmbH and Co KGaA

Project title: Electric solar cooking

Outline: Research and development work relating to off-grid DC powered efficient cooking appliances (electric pressure cooker and rice cooker).

Location: East Africa, Myanmar.

Summary:

Traditional biomass cooking stoves are still used by approximately 3 billion people and come at a great cost to both health and environment. Fosera, a manufacturer of solar home systems, recognises an opportunity to meet the demand for clean cooking solutions with photovoltaic (PV) and lithium-battery-based systems. The use of batteries enables the household to cook during evening hours, even when the sun is not shining. We aim to bring to market products that address cooking needs with solar energy, ultimately benefitting many people with improved health, environmental and economic indicators.

Fosera aims to introduce small rice cookers and electric pressure cookers to the market to meet the needs of a single or two-person household as well as partially meeting the needs of larger households. Existing 12V DC rice cookers and electric pressure cookers are available on the Chinese and European market but are not optimised for use with solar home systems. Research and development work needs to be done to improve the performance of these near to market products and to optimise them for use with Fosera off-grid products. Research will be conducted to find the best temperature and power operating point as well as investigating improving insulation to maximise efficiency. This will be done through upgrading sensors and implementing micro controller-based control algorithms to better utilise the range of appliance performance. These findings will then be implemented into the appliances and field trials will be conducted. Finally, Fosera can then distribute appliances over its extensive distribution network and make the product available to a wide range of off-grid users.

M-Kopa

Project title: Pay As You Cook (making electronic cooking assets affordable)

Outline: Exploring a potential solution that realises “advanced electric cooking” on a Pay As You Go basis for low-income customers in Africa and beyond.

Location: Kenya, Uganda

Summary:

This project will undertake research and early stage development of an electric cooking solution, in respect to the feasibility of three key variables: the power requirement of the cooking device, the power output of the “solar” power device, and the ability and willingness of customers to pay.

Although M-Kopa has successfully sold thousands of “fuel efficient” charcoal cookstoves to customers, these do not offer the opportunity to:

  • Fully displace carbon and biomass fuels;
  • Remove smoke and fire from customers’ homes, and
  • Offer the degree of modernity that customers rightly expect from PAYG energy solutions

This project will enable M-KOPA to examine outputs of all research undertaken to date, working with cutting-edge cooking solutions, adapting M-KOPA devices’ power outputs, and exploring pricing models.

Sustainable Community Development Services (SCODE), Kenya

Project title: Development and evaluation of a direct current solar electric pressure cooker unit.

Outline: Developing and evaluating the performance and economic viability of a d.c solar pressure cooker for off-grid rural household use.

Location: Kenya

Summary:

Kenya’s geographical location astride the equator gives it unique opportunity for a vibrant solar energy market. The country receives good solar insulation all year round estimated at 4-6 kWh/m2/day. Recent research has shown that electric pressure cooker is highly compatible with Kenyan cooking practices and is much cheaper to cook with however, the market has not been penetrated to date. Almost all available models are customized to use AC power only and the upfront costs are too high for poor communities currently using biomass and kerosene for cooking. Nakuru county is located in the rift valley province of Kenya with challenges of access to clean, efficient and affordable energy. Biomass fuel commonly used for cooking has several limitations that include high emissions, deforestation and low thermal efficiencies. There is a need to explore solar photovoltaic energy which is clean, efficient, zero emissions and is freely available in Mogotio and Mbaruk location as a case study.

This will be a 12-month early stage feasibility study for piloting d.c. solar electric cooking in two rural communities with both off-grid households and households with unreliable grid connections. The aim of the study will be to test and evaluate the performance of the d.c solar pressure cooker in the workshop, evaluate potential for adoption of d.c unit within the communities and assess the economic viability of d.c unit. The cookers in the market will be assessed and a suitable one will be chosen or developed for assembly and testing in the workshop. Based on the performance of the cooker in the workshop, further evaluation will be done with potential users using kitchen performance and controlled cooking test. The affordability of the d.c unit will also be assessed based on the income levels of potential users. The study seeks to achieve a d.c solar pressure cooker that is efficient in cooking three meals in a day, durable and is affordable.

SunCulture Kenya Limited

Project title: Powering energy efficient solar powered pressure cooker with ClimateSmartTM Internet-of-Things technology.

Outline: Exploring ways to increase the energy efficiency of solar pressure cookers throughout Kenya with ClimateSmartTM Internet-of-Things technology.

Location: Kenya

Summary:

Nothing in the house causes as much suffering as cooking. According to the World Bank, children under the age of 5 in lower-income countries are 60 times more likely to die from exposure to indoor air pollution than children in high-income countries. And Global Alliance For Clean Cookstoves reports that residential solid fuel burning accounts for 25% of global carbon emissions. Of this, 84% comes from households in developing countries. Basic efficient cookstoves do not decrease carbon emissions and are still harmful to health, biogas is too expensive upfront, kerosene stoves’ fuel is too expensive, and electricity is too inconsistent for cooking in the rural context. Solar is the only affordable, sustainable solution to cooking challenges in low-income countries.

SunCulture, an off-grid solar technology company in Kenya, has developed a ClimateSmartTM Solar Energy System, an Internet-of-Things (IoT) connected Lithium-Ion Battery that optimizes performance of appliances, such as our RainMarker2 solar pump. We have recently deployed into the field a solar pressure cooker that plugs directly into ClimateSmartTM. ClimateSmartTM acts as an IoT gateway, which has allowed us to remotely monitor usage of the solar cookers for the handful of pilot customers. In this project, we want to build on our hardware and software by working closely with end users to add innovative features (e.g. remote cooker activation and predictive maintenance) to the solar pressure cookers and explore additional ways to improve performance and usability of the solar cookers using IoT and machine learning. At less than $1.25 per day for ClimateSmartTM and a solar pressure cooker on our Pay-As-You-Go platform, this innovation will be accessible for millions across Africa. This has the opportunity to halt toxic smoke whirling through homes around the world and help rescue the planet from the wrath of climate change.