Africa, Environment

Solar aided volcanic rock stove saves kitchen bills in Ugandan district

On eve of World Renewable Energy Day, experts say eco stove helps to reduce dependence on charcoal thus saving forests

Hamza Kyeyune   | 21.06.2022
Solar aided volcanic rock stove saves kitchen bills in Ugandan district

KAMPALA, Uganda

With the growing population and increasing requirement for energy in kitchens, residents in Uganda’s Gomba district have come up with a groundbreaking solution by rolling out an eco stove, that not only saves money on cooking bills but reduces carbon footprint.

On eve of World Renewable Energy Day, which is being observed on Wednesday, residents told Anadolu Agency that the stove uses a combination of volcanic rocks (70%) and briquettes or charcoal (30%).

With the help of a compatible solar-powered air system that pushes air into the rocks, the stones absorb energy and drive combustion.

"They are designed in a way that once the charcoal burns and the heat is transferred to the stones, one does not need more charcoal. It is the red stones that keep burning with the help of the fan which uses solar to run," said Busingye Aida while showing the eco stove in her kitchen.

Claiming that her kitchen fuel bill has drastically reduced since the adoption of the new technology, she said the charcoal sack that she buys lasts now for 16 weeks. Earlier it used to last for only two weeks.

The solar-powered stoves project implemented in the Gomba district is supported by Global Climate Change Alliance (GCCA). The district comprises 17 forest reserves, but most of them have been depleted by charcoal burners, loggers, and farmers.

But the National Forestry Authority Executive Director Tom Obong Okello said that despite the propagation of this eco stove, the pressure on forests will continue to increase as there is charcoal demand from Kenya and Rwanda.

“Modern cooking innovations like solar-powered stoves and other forms of renewable energy have the potential to roll back deforestation and sustainably employ hundreds of jobless youths in the country,” he said.

Uganda’s forest cover depletion is largely attributed to human encroachment for different activities such as tree cutting for charcoal and timber as well as agriculture.

Between 2015 and 2020, the rate of deforestation was estimated at 10 million hectares per year, down from 16 million hectares per year in the 1990s.

According to Global Alliance for Clean Cook Stoves (GACC), a global network of partners to make clean cooking accessible, the country’s total primary sources of cooking energy are firewood, charcoal, and briquettes.

Katongole Hadija, a teacher at a university told Anadolu Agency that it is critical to understand the drivers of the choice of the type of cooking energy to be able to tailor solutions and guide priorities of action.

“One of the critical constraints is the lack of clear and empirical information on the drivers of demand for cooking energy sources. To understand such dynamics and increase the use of clean energy sources, there should be deliberate efforts to target women who are at the forefront in decision making when it comes to household energy needs,” she said.

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