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Radically changing the way 3rd world countries cook today with biomass - introducing the ECOCA, a solar powered electric cooker

Denne idé er en del af 360 Grader Prisen 2019

Mads Bering
Mads Bering
27. juni 2019

The challenge

We're facing a multidimensional challenge given the many health-related factors associated with smoke and related illnesses from traditional fires, so damaging to the extent that a fundamental activity such as cooking produces health and environmental damages. In particular, globally around 3 billion people cook using polluting open fires or simple stoves fueled by kerosene & biomass, where the inhaling of the acrid smoke and fine soot particles leads to close to 4 million people dying prematurely from illness attributable to household air pollution from cooking practices. When quantified, Clean Cooking Alliance notes that air pollution costs the world economy $5 trillion a year, therefore highlighting the need intrinsic for cooking methods and practices that limit the emissions of air pollutants. While there have been some proposed solutions, such as cleaner biomass and LPG stoves, these often still need wood, charcoal or briquettes/pellets to function, thus only partially solves the fuel sourcing problem. 

Fuel-burning cooking methods and practices also create other negative impacts and collateral challenges including resource dependency of fuel materials, which contributes greatly to deforestation and exacerbates climate change; and personal safety or safeguarding of individuals, which not only have to endeavour in the time-consuming activity of fuel collection (~20 hours/week) but suffer of violence (personal attacks on women and children) whilst performing this activity outside of their settlements or villages. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) further these challenges noting fuel-based cooking practices contributes to spoiled food, respiratory diseases, environmental degradation, conflict and unsustainable, precarious livelihood activities such as charcoal making or wood selling, and even burns and disfigurement from open flames. Further, the World Health Organisation (WHO) indicated that more than 4 million men, women, and children die each year from diseases that could be entirely prevented by using advanced or “clean” cookstoves and fuels than die from malaria or tuberculosis'.

The solution and innovation

The solution to cooking with biomass or systems that require expensive fuel is to shift to a clean, efficient, sustainable and environmentally friendly cooking system that uses solar photovoltaic as an energy source. 

The ECOCA is a compact, self-contained, multi-purpose home cooking unit consisting of a battery pack, solar panel, and a highly insulated pot. This insulation enables food to continue cooking without further energy input after reaching the boiling point. The unit is small, light-weight and simple to use. 

Aside from cooking, the ECOCA can be used to charge light bulbs, phone, and small appliances, allowing for the typical household to cover their electricity needs (SDG 7.1.1) as well as to engage in electricity-based income generating activities (SDG 2.3.2).

The ECOCA revolutionary cookstove, utilizing already known technological concepts combined with the right timing. Solar powered lithium batteries and Danish technical engineering have produced a cook stove with 5 times more efficient cooking technology compared to any competitor on the market for developing countries. We're bringing this to the market now due to the right timing and the technology learning curve - every time the installed subjects are multiplied, prices will be reduced by 17-20 percent. The prices on PV panels and batteries are now at a level where we can offer a product at an acceptable price. Allowing us to be first movers and innovators on combining these technologies together for novel commercialization. 

The ECOCA micro-kitchen solution is estimated to cover 80% of current usage with fuelwood for cooking in refugee settlements (numbers are based on the Bidi Bidi settlement in Uganda). Our solution would, therefore, reduce CO2 emissions by 91,9% of current production, which is a radical mitigation change of the climate agenda. The ECOCA is a fully off-grid solution that comes with a 265-watt solar panel which provides power to a 20aH battery inside our cooking module. Through a calculated 24/7 circle time, we have identified the possibility to cook 3 meals a day for a family of 7-10 people, while allowing them to charge 4 iPads throughout the day. In the system, we have installed a logging system to identify the complete usage of our system and we're looking into implementing additional sensors for measuring air pollution. Our data is based on calculating the CO2 footprint for producing the ECOCA, recycling the battery and transportation on-site. Expecting the footprint is off-set within 8 months. The data for calculating the coverage and reduction of CO2 emissions in the Bidi Bidi settlement originates from the 'Rapid woodfuel assessment' conducted by FAO and UNHCR in 2017. Estimating 350.000 tonnes CO2 emissions per year from the camp, allowing us to reduce 7,39 tonnes pr. family a year. 


Today units are installed in Uganda and Myanmar expecting up to 50.000 units installed by end of 2021. To gain a perspective on the impact we've done to validate the technology and adaptation on the end user, have a look at the video provided in this link: https://www.dropbox.com/s/9b7om0r0wiofnou/Pesitho_Impact_Video.MOV?dl=0