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2019 Winner: “SUNSPOT Solar Electric Cooking”

US-based group wins 2019 RTC for project to replace polluting fuels with a solar-powered home cooking system

US-based group wins 2019 RTC for project to replace polluting fuels with a solar-powered home cooking system

The Renewable Transformation Challenge, launched in 2017, aims to honor and showcase outstanding work that actively supports the transformation to a world powered by renewable energy and has potential to widen access to energy, particularly in developing countries. The challenge was open to individuals and organizations in both not-for-profit and commercial sectors worldwide.

Douglas Danley, from the winning group, explained, “the combination of low-cost PV modules, efficient consumer-grade electric cooking appliances and innovative microfinancing have made it possible to introduce the SUNSPOT, a solar-electric cooking system that competes cost-effectively with traditional biomass stoves”.

The scale of the problem that Douglas Danley and his team set out to solve is massive. According to the World Bank, three billion people across the world are still using basic biomass fuels like wood or dung for cooking, with significant negative impacts on their health, the environment, and their social and economic potential. “Benefits of SUNSPOT”, Danley said, “include lowered carbon emissions and reduced pressure on local forests, but, most importantly, elimination of smoke from traditional fires and other quality-of-life improvements for the women and children most directly involved in cooking,” freeing up time currently used in collecting fuel, users will be able to spend more time on socially beneficial activities like education and commerce.

“We look forward to working with partners around the world to scale this technology and help achieve the RTC goal of moving the world toward an energy system supplied entirely by renewable energy sources. The SUNSPOT team is honored to be selected as the winner of the Elsevier & International Solar Energy Society Renewable Transformation Challenge 2019.”

“A key to achieving 100% renewable energy and a decarbonized energy system is to accelerate the electrification of all of our end use energy needs,” added Dr. David Renné, President of ISES. “The electrification of traditional cooking methods in developing countries, which generally rely on the unsustainable use of biomass fuels, will be a significant game changer, and will also help accelerate energy access to all off-grid populations so they can meet their other end use energy needs as well.”

Over 100 entries were received for the biennial challenge. They were scored in terms of applicability, impact, sustainability and scalability in two stages: first by the Juror Panel, and then by the Elsevier-ISES Awards Committee who selected the final winner from the ten shortlisted candidatesopens in new tab/window.

“It was great to see so much great work being done in these proposals from across the world, from Uganda to Portugal, the USA to India, and beyond,” said Adam Fraser, Senior Publisher, of the renewable and sustainable energy journal portfolio, in Elsevier’s energy programme. “By electrifying home cooking systems using solar energy in a cost effective way, Team SUNSPOT can steadily begin to reduce the immediate adverse effects of polluting cooking methods, and make a contribution towards our global efforts to combat climate change. Work such as this is what Elsevier’s energy programme and ISES set out to support: learning from the sort of research we’ve got a strong history of publishing and taking that out into communities to deliver real impact.

Top 10 entries

Here we present the final Top 10 entries for the Renewable Transformation Challenge 2019, in no particular order below:

All 10 entries show great potential with all projects working directly to the Challenges mission: achieving a world powered by renewable energy and accessible energy for all.

  • Robert Cunningham, RVE.SOL - SOLUÇÕES DE ENERGIA RURAL LDA: KUDURA – Achieving Universal Basic Utility Access (Portugal)

  • William Kisaalita, Thermogenn: Wind-/biogas-powered cooling in rural settings (Uganda)

  • Haiwang Zhong, Tsinghua University: Renewable Energy-Dominated Virtual Power Plant (China)

  • Richard Perez, State University of New York: Protocol for Italian solar energy transition (USA)

  • Manikandan G K, Smart Bricks Construction: Deliver boiled water for Scheduled Tribal peoples (India)

  • Maria Soledad Penaranda-Moren, Efficiency Consulting GmbH: MULTIFUNCTIONAL SYSTEM: GREENING AND PHOTOVOLTAICS (Austria)

  • Douglas Danley, Team SUNSPOT: SUNSPOT Solar Electric Cooking (USA)

  • Alexander van der Kleij, Solar Dew: Solar Dew (Netherlands)

  • Georgiana Maries, MG Sustainable Engineering: Concentrating Bifacial Photovoltaic Panel C-BfPV (Sweden)

  • Georg Heinemann, SolarWorx: Next generation SHSs for bottom up electrification