Discovering GoSol’s Solar Concentration Oven, a promising project in Burkina Faso

Achille (left) and Lorin (right) holding cookies from the solar oven, Ouagadougou, February 2020

The Sustainable Development Goal 7 (SDG 7) is to “Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy”. It follows on from the facts noted by the UN Environment programme:

· 3 billion people rely on wood, coal, charcoal or animal waste for cooking and heating

· Energy is the dominant contributor to climate change, accounting for around 60 per cent of total global greenhouse gas emissions

· Since 1990, global emissions of CO2 have increased by more than 46 per cent.

· Hydropower is the largest single renewable electricity source today, providing 16% of world electricity at competitive prices. It dominates the electricity mix in several countries, developed, emerging or developing.

· Bioenergy is the single largest renewable energy source today, providing 10% of world primary energy supply.

In light of these facts, it’s important according to the UNESCO to Enhance international cooperation to facilitate access to clean energy research and technology, including renewable energy, energy efficiency and advanced and cleaner fossil-fuel technology, and promote investment in energy infrastructure and clean energy technology by 2030.

Last February 01, I connected with Mr. Lorin Symington in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso as he was temporally passing by for work. Lorin is working as Chief Builder, Prototyping & Fieldwork at GoSol, a Concentration Ltd, an impact focused enterprise based in Finland. He has extensive international experience designing and developing small scale solar concentrators and adapting them to regional needs (Mexico, Cuba, Mali, Haiti, South Africa, Canada and Finland).

Lorin came in Burkina as part of a project being implemented by GoSol in collaboration with the NGO REMAR International . The objective of this project is to sustainably improve the income of excluded women through occupational training that fosters equitable economic growth, creating tools for employment and promoting self-esteem, being able to generate favourable factors for poverty reduction and social cohesion. In addition to the oven GoSol also produces roasters and dehydrators.

When I first met with Lorin, he was finalizing the finishing GoSol first solar concentration oven in Burkina, with a team of young welders. This solar oven concentrates solar rays using mirrors to produce a clean energy. According to GoSol, it can bake 500 cookies per day, 16 breads per 45-minute batch, with up to 350°C / 662F baking temperature, heat distribution for high quality bakes, it is immune to blackouts and brownouts and it has no fuel costs.

Prototype of the solar oven in Kenya, copyright: GoSol.org

I was amazed by the demonstration of the oven as the product specifications were evident. I found it promising for the solar entrepreneurship in a very sunny country like Burkina Faso. This product would provide direct solar access while helping to replace charcoal, coal, firewood, gas and electricity. It would be interesting for restaurants, families, in urban or rural areas, etc. It would also greatly contribute to reduce women workforce on the energy sector especially in rural area.

But in order to promote its use across the country, its important to develop big scale projects which involve NGO’s, Governments, Project Financiers, UN Agencies and private investors.

First GoSol’s solar oven in Burkina Faso, February 2020

Mandela Washington Fellow, for Young African Leaders — Civic engagement — Development Cooperation, Economist, Project Management skills, Free learner