The GoSol.org initiative, launched by Solar Fire Concentration OY (SolarFire.co), is trying to break the capital cost barriers to small scale use of solar concentration for household cooking, small commercial use, and other applications by leveraging local materials and skills as well as incorporating, when feasible, local bio-materials.
Their business model has two facets: 1) Developing engineering services for industrial solar concentration, while 2) leveraging this expertise to develop simple solar thermal artisan methods and applications that can be built anywhere to power local activities with sunlight.
Solar cooking is just one of the possible applications of technologies found on GoSol.org. When enough mirrors are focused on an oven or cooking pot, the temperatures reached are comparable to traditional biomass fires meaning traditional recipes and cooking techniques can remain unchanged.
Our first prototype solar concentrator was made in Canada and the first application was in Oaxaca, Mexico, roasting cocoa beans. This enabled local forest communities to add value to their produce and led to the creation of ChocoSol Traders, an artisanal, organic chocolate-making social enterprise in Toronto. Additional testing and development in over a dozen countries resulted in even more iterations and ideas. The result today is that our technology suite is adaptable and scalable, from a small concentrator that will boil a tea kettle in a matter of minutes, to large arrays capable of creating steam for producing heat for small and medium industries.Our basic solar array has 4 square meters of mirror and provides clean, free heat upwards of 2kW (picture a red-hot large electric stovetop) which enables families and entrepreneurs not only to cook carbon-free for up to 20 people at a time, but also power other tasks such as food dehydration, pasteurization, or the processing of fibers such as wool. The applications of our technologies are virtually limitless and the potential scope is massive. Partnering with the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves is important, because it brings visibility and influence to our endeavors.
“We developed most iterations of the technology by simply traveling somewhere and trying to build from scratch,” says chief maker Lorin Symington. “This was the secret to developing a set of methods that are finely tuned to the local conditions and requirements. The raw components are common steel or aluminum profiles, wooden lengths, reflective surfaces like normal bathroom mirrors, and some nuts and bolts. The structure for the array can then be built with tools and skills that you find nearly everywhere. ”
Cooperating with organizations such as World Vision and networks such as the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, we plan to get the technology on the ground to work out where it is best suited. With enough success cases incubated by partner NGOs or built by pioneers, and free construction guides on GoSol.org, we are confident that rapid spontaneous adoption will occur.
Low-cost and high-power solar thermal technologies that can be built locally around the world could add another tool for increasing clean energy access and improving regional autonomy and resilience. "For us, there is no conflict between solar in industry and for humanitarian use, in fact it is going to take both to have a strong impact on the climate and poverty, two issues that can no longer be separated." says Eerik Wissenz, chairman.
Connect with GoSol.org: facebook.com/gosol.org or on Twitter @GoSolOrg.