SCODE is a community-based organization which was established to enable people in Kenya, especially the poor, to improve their quality of life by adopting technologies and approaches that are environmentally friendly and contribute towards sustainable development. Their project aimed to explore the development, and evaluate the performance and economic viability, of a direct current solar electric pressure cooker (DC SEPC) for off-grid rural household use in Kenya.
The upfront costs of available AC models are too high for poor communities however, research has shown that the electric pressure cooker (EPC) is highly compatible with Kenyan cooking practices. Initially this 12-month project was an early-stage feasibility study for piloting DC SEPC in two rural communities but issues with DC appliance reliability and safety concerns resulted in a review of AC appliances.
The study sought to achieve a SEPC that is efficient in cooking three meals in a day, is durable and affordable. SCODE showed that households were able to cook almost all their food with a combination of LPG and AC EPC (grid-connected or solar), reducing biomass use to almost zero. Costs were reduced from approximately Ksh. 353 with biomass and kerosene to Ksh. 196 using a double LPG burner and AC EPC. Even with the higher daily cost of the solar cooking system, households were able to save 44% of their cooking cost.
With the higher cost of using an AC system, SCODE developed a consumer financing model to enable households in the study areas to acquire the SEPC and pay-to-own while using it. They set up a WhatsApp group for participants to share insights and make more effective use of the systems. These interventions were well received and insights have been considerable.
One participant from the group, a widower with children noted; ‘For the first time since my wife departed, I now feel like I have a helper in the house. We take less than half the time to cook, my children are more relaxed and no longer feel cooking is a bother. I find myself cooking as well, since I find the stoves very inviting, easy to use’.
Results from the project support the hypothesis that the use of AC PCs saves energy, reduces biomass fuel consumption and reduces overall expenditures on cooking energy. However the work also identified areas that need further research and development. More detail can be found in the report.
As a result of this project, SCODE has already begun to sell AC EPCs to grid connected customers in Nakuru and is participating in a Results Based Financing (RBF) programme.