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Cheap shared solar centers.

To fortify the notion of holistic renewable energy solutions. I wish to contribute the idea to establish "Solar operating centers" run by councils / local authorities in each residential areas especially in poor countries in Africa /Asia. The idea is to give an option for people using fossil fuels particularly areas where communities use firewood to have alternate source. The community will use the center to prepare food paying small charge like shared laundry centers. In Somalia cutting trees not only damaged environment , but likewise damaged food security of the nomadic due to recurrent droughts Esatblishing shared "solar centres" run by local may accelerate transition from our current reliance on fossil fuels to renewable energy

Photo of Abdi Malik Ismail

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the idea is as briefly described is to establish "Solar run cooking centres" These centres will manned and run by local authorities in each residential areas and community members will minuim charge to prepare their food. It is just like shared launderies where people put money to wash their cloth.
I nwsih to ask the community " how feasible is and particularly the hygenic / food safety side?  

What community does this idea benefit and who are the main players?

This will benefit the whole community at large and particularly those who use "Fossil Energy" . It will save time and likewise will amplify as other energy sources to reduce environmental degradation and emission of co.

The key players are the local authorities , health supervisors and other environmental scientific researchers and energy suppliers who will go further to test whether this could extended to homes. The idea is to see if develop into pipeline energy where each area could be supplied at certain times of the day

How does your idea specifically help your community rapidly transition to renewables?

This idea definitely will help poor people currently using "Firewood" in Africa and Asia who don't have access to other sources of energy. And if tested it will definitively lift a great burden on the environment.
As briefly mentioned above, In Somalia and like countries majority of population in the rural areas depend upon "Firewood" for all food preparation as well as lighting.
You will find a big local restaurant using big wooden stacks of firewood or charcoal which is running as a fire for the whole to prepare simpler things like tea or coffee.

What early, lightweight experiment can you try out in your own community to find out if the idea will meet your expectations?

I am willing to try a smaller or medium size- solar dishes to distribute it to 300 or more villages which currently depend on firewood and who are willing to use - Solar energy because in addition to diminishing environmental degradation and cutting trees which adversely reduced the rate of rainfall. The communities are willing to change and try solar energy to minimize the fire damage liability which is 80% likely to occur on daily basis.
The revenue or proceeds collected will go back to the community to maintain the centers and also to be used for other communal activities like purification of water sources by digging more wells.

What skills, input or guidance are you keen to connect with from the OpenIDEO community to help you build out or refine your idea further?

I welcome academicians and solar energy experts as well as community at large to hone the idea with me taking into consideration that cutting in Somalia has become so flourishing business and unfortunately terrorist and self appointed war lords have made millions of dollars through charcoal business by selling charcoal at Middle-east.
Assisting these small towns and villages with centralized solar cooking dishes will likewise discourage the population to refrain from cutting because that will give them another source or option to new sources of energy.

Please indicate which type of energy is most relevant to this post:

  • Solar

This idea emerged from:

  • An Individual
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Team (3)

Abdi Malik's profile
Carles's profile
Carles Guerrero Santiago

Role added on team:

"Carles is fantastic, his questions allowed me to consider further the idea of how best to safeguard the center . We can even employ guards and thus create jobs for some community members."

Anesa's profile
Anesa Kratovac

Role added on team:

"Thanks very much Anesa. Please accept my invitation and come on board with us as a team member."


Join the conversation:

Photo of Natalie Lake

Hi Abdi and Carles,

Do you guys have any concerns about days where there isn't enough solar irradiance to cook at the centers? Perhaps incorporating another renewable like biodigesters where you could cook off the methane as a backup would be a good idea? What specific region of Somalia are you interested in working in, have you looked up the peak solar irradiance for that area?

I think this idea takes a creative approach to a very real problem facing many developing countries and I love the sense of community that these centers would create.

Thank you for sharing!

Photo of Abdi Malik Ismail

Hi Natalie - Gracious what a good comment!!! Your points are valid . But the good news is that in Somalia it is 360 days sunlight. Nevertheless, your point to have a bio-digesters as contingency is wonderful.
Natalie would you please join as a team member?

Photo of Natalie Lake

Hi Abdi,

I would love to join as a team member. Since you have knowledge about Somalia, what sort of crops do they grow in the area? I wonder if having fruit, nut and vegetable dehydrators in the community center would be beneficial to the community? What do you think? Excited to join the team!

Photo of Abdi Malik Ismail

Thanks and please come on board . Your contribution will enlighten the idea.
Yes in the south of the country we have fruits, nuts etc....and having dehydrators will definitely boost the community center. Tell me can it be locally made? Will having dehydrators and burning its skin likewise boost the bio-fuel as alternate option during the rainy days.

Photo of Natalie Lake

Hi Abdi,

I think you have to invite me in order for me to join the team. With regards, to the dehydrator, it can definitely be made locally! They are usually made with some nails, wood, and mosquito netting or other type of screen. You could potentially burn the skin as a bio fuel for sure but I think it would be better to use in composting. To create fertile soil for their crops. Let me know what you think!

Photo of Anesa Kratovac

I really like this idea- bravo! It would not only bring a community together, but it would push forth a consensus on the importance of renewable energy and would make a whole community (as opposed to only certain wealthier or more informed individuals) flourish. I would love to see a prototype sketch of this community center you envision. Perhaps the renewable-source logistics (which ones to incorporate) could be tweaked according to the environment/culture.

Photo of Abdi Malik Ismail

Thanks very much. Would you please join us as a team member

Photo of Carles Guerrero Santiago

Thanks Abdi for your idea. I have some doubts and contributions on your post:

- I think Somalia (under economic and climate potins of view) is a great choice: it's sunny (what about the moonsoons?) and developing, therefor community initiatives should be easier to execute.

- Are there any communities organized for "firewood cooking"? Do people cook on their own?

- How do you evaluate the potential risks of terrorism and war lords on this cooking-centers? How could we mitigate them?

- What do you mean by "the revenue of the proceedings"? Please explain.

- What's your point on letting the communities run their own "solar cooking centers"?

In that case, governments might help putting the money for the infrastructure investment and then let communities run on their own such centers. If there was the chance to monetize somehow this energy production, part of the revenues might be used to pay back to the government in a long-term pay-back scheme. [Wherever it says Government, say open platforms such as Kiva].

Thank you!

Photo of Abdi Malik Ismail

Thanks very much Carles. Your queries are relevant. To answer your questions
1. There is no organised firewood cooking, people cook on their own family / indi
2. to mitigate terror groups / warlord - it be will community owned and community will defend as common property they are from the area, community. they may levy charges , but they cannot destroy it . community will defend it
3. Revenue / proceeds. I mean community could charge or if someone wants to use the cooker, she /he has to pay minimal charge depending may be on time or quantity of food or may put coins for the time used like parking charges.
4. the gov't or local authorities may run , but will I prefer under community.

Photo of Carles Guerrero Santiago

1- See Doug's post, might we apply it?
2- I am not that into details on terror groups in Somalia. Can't say further...
3- Again agree with Doug's post. Maybe pay-per-use is not a solution. What about offering community services instead (s.a. cleaning, security, repairs, ...)?
4- Private (say non-public) is normally a better solution. What do the others think?

Photo of Abdi Malik Ismail

Hi Carles. I have just replied to Doug. As you might see I told him ( as a teammate) you have suggested to hear from more people. I agree with you at the end will more private. But at this point the most vulnerable the poor can't buy even if it is $20 per stove it also carries transportation / installation charges

Photo of Doug Wood

As a guest of India I was told that local solar cooking is the most cost effective application of solar in the world. When they showed me small dish technology the economic numbers were almost unbelievable. Firewood cooking has very poor efficiency due to poor heat transfer. Solar heat transfer to a black pot is 4x better.

Solar cooker cost must be very low because typical rural users make $1/day gross income. Shared use reduces individual cost and increases community value with more time on sun. The locally produced polished aluminum reflectors have poor durability, a few years, so supply cheap reflector replacements.

Photo of Abdi Malik Ismail

Thanks very much for your remarkable contribution. Me and my teammate Carles Guerrero admire your idea. Individual usage suits restaurants and other small enterprise owners and with progress families , individuals will buy it.
But at this junction may be we start with communal sharing .
Carles has invited other opinions so let us hear from more people.

Photo of Meena Kadri

Interesting stuff, Abdi! Perhaps there might be learnings from existing initiatives like this: as you evolve this idea further. You might also like to try out a User Experience Map to flesh out your idea in a human-centred way: