From SolarCity to…Solar Cookers?


The Global Risks 2014 report from the World Economic Forum assesses 31 of the world’s most important risks that have the potential to cause widespread damage across societies and industries. The third highest risk on the top 10 list was the water crisis. Also on the list was access to high quality foods in developing countries. You can download the full report here.

As a visionary, Elon Musk has a knack for identifying long-term problems and thinking systematically about solutions. With the SolarCity project, Musk’s idea was to install solar panels on people’s roofs for free; customers pay no cost for the equipment, installation, warranty, or maintenance of the panels. SolarCity then sells customers the electricity. It creates a win-win because SolarCity doesn’t need to pay for land or office space to house the panels and customers have lower energy costs. The company has helped drive the demand for solar panels in the United States.

Given Musk’s expertise in the alternative energy space, I challenge him to design a more affordable, compact, and sophisticated solar cooker to help combat the massive global water and food crises that are currently ongoing. A solar cooker is a device which uses the energy of direct sunlight to heat, cook or pasteurize food or drink. In many developing countries, solar cookers have only started to have an impact on controlling food-borne disease and contaminated water. There is still a lot of work to be done, especially in the production of these cookers. A non-profit called Solar Cookers International has helped spread awareness of such products to  countries with plentiful sunshine, but has only made a tiny impact. I would love for Musk to develop a more sophisticated solar cooker that can impact millions of lives.

Here’s a short video about the non-profit:

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5 thoughts on “From SolarCity to…Solar Cookers?”

  1. This is an idea that has the opportunity to reach an incredible number of people and seems relatively simple. Food and water are necessities to life that people who have these two things often overlook. In places around the world, people are not food and water secure. An invention like this could have a great impact on this.

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  2. Cool how you tied into Mary B’s groups last week.

    I wonder if we can “tesla-ize” these in terms of tapping into the AMerican backyard cooking market….

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  3. I think this is a great idea that would definitely drive down the costs of cooking therefore helping not only the environment but the people as well.

    Do you think there would be an alternative to the “solar” aspect of the cookers for countries/regions that don’t get as much sun?

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    1. Unfortunately ample sunlight and a warm climate are prerequisites to use the solar cooker. Besides portable stoves or propane grills, I haven’t been able to find anything that could be as a substitute in regions that don’t get as much sun. But that is what Elon Musk is for!

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  4. I was going to comment on the very specific requirements for this type of cooker. Maybe Elon Musk can design some sort of cooker that you can use at anytime of day in any climate!

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