Solar stoves prove healthier, cheaper

February 19, 2009

LookAtVietnam – Solar stoves and hot plates to boil water have made the environment of a village near Da Nang City cleaner. It has also saved money for the villagers.

A family in Binh Ky Village, Hoa Quy Commune, Ngu Hanh Son District in central Da Nang City use solar stoves and hot plates to boil water.

The Dutch non-government organisation, Solar Serve, and the Da Nang People’s Committee are sponsors of the trial that started in the Ngu Hanh Son District’s Binh Ky 2 Village in 2007.

The project is based on the research of Da Nang University of Technology deputy director Dr Hoang Duong Hung.

The cooker is a wooden box lined with aluminium or stainless steel and a mirror to reflect the sunrays; a black cooking pot; glass to reduce heat loss and a layer of insulation.

It is set on a revolving axis so that its users can adjust it to the direction of the sun and is complete with a pot rack.

The system to boil water consists of two elements to collect the heat from the sun and a tank.

“Using solar energy to cook is simple and economical,” says villager Nguyen Thi Anh Minh who concedes it took persuasion from the women’s association for households to gradually begin tapping energy from the sun.

“It’s very convenient and I not only don’t have to buy firewood but also I’m healthier from using it.”

The villager says not having to buy firewood has saved her about VND300,000 (US$17) a month since she began using the solar system about two years ago.

Ho Thi Tuyet Trinh says: “Before, after lighting the firewood, I was all wet with sweat. But now I only need to pull the cooker into the sunlight and wait for few minutes to cook.”

Pham Thi Hanh says use of the system has halved the amount of gas her family uses.

Refills have gone from one every two months to one every four months.

Hoa Quy Ward People’s Committee deputy chairman Huynh Kim says the villagers have stopped felling trees for firewood since they began using the cookers.

The project

“The aim of the project is to help the poor,” says its chairman Dr Hung.

Project staff had to hold many meetings with the villagers and explain how the old cooking methods created pollution that was a danger to both the environment and themselves before they accepted the solar system, he says.

Village Women’s Union member Pham Thi Hanh says all the residents now like the cooker.

“Some, who are not part of the project, have asked me for a cooker,” she says.

She estimates that more than 100 of the 300 village households are now using it.

Dr Hung says the solar cooker costs about VND1-1.5 million (US$60-88) and the hot plate for boiling water VND5 million ($294).

But it can only be used when it is sunny.

Otherwise the villagers use gas.

The project’s managers now intend to install a lighting system that uses solar-charged batteries in the village.

VietNamNet/Viet Nam News

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