Renewable Energy: An Overview


Renewable energy is the term used to describe energy that comes from sources whose supplies are regenerative and virtually inexhaustible. Among these sources are sunshine,  wind,  water,  vegetation, and the  heat of the earth

Throughout history, these sources have been successfully harnessed and used to provide energy. Almost 2,500 years ago, the Greeks designed their homes to use winter sunlight for heating. Large, south-facing windows were used to collect solar heat, which was stored in massive walls and floors for gradual release throughout the night. The wind has also been used as an energy source for centuries. Some of its early uses include propelling ships and pumping water.

Today's technological advancements have developed more efficient means of harnessing and using renewable energy sources, and these sources are gaining increasing popularity. They offer us alternatives to nonrenewable energy sources such as oil, coal and natural gas which, when burned can cause acid rain and contribute to the overall warming of the Earth known as the "Greenhouse Effect." Existing renewable energy installations are making significant contributions to the US energy supply, and research activities are demonstrating the far-reaching impact that a greater reliance on renewable energy sources could have on our country's energy security. In addition, on-going and planned research offers still more possibilities.

Solar Technology & Science


Renewable Energy: An Overview



Solar Architecture


Technology for Consumers

Solar for Consumers

Photovoltaics, passive solar heating and cooling, solar cooking, solar hot water, a guide to buying a solar electric system, solar architecture and more...



Solar for Professionals

Professional & Technical Documents

Technical Documents

Batteries, How Not To Do It,

Emerging Technologies

Emerging Technologies- Needs new article

Fuel cell system as longer lived battery replacement?



Our hand-picked selection of books (some with AzSC Board Member-written reviews) and a selection of relevant journals and articles...



All About Solar Cookers 7



For more information on solar cookers please visit:
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (solar cooking chat room contact)

Conservation Programs Credits
A publication of the Arizona Department of Commerce Energy Office
3800 N. Central Ave, Suite 1200
Phoenix, Arizona 85012
(602) 280-1402
or call toll-free in Arizona
(800) 352-5499

Fourth Edition: October 1994

Editor: Jim Arwood
Written by: Jim Arwood and Norma Dulin Gurovich
Layout and Design: Shauna Obergfell
Solar Panel Cooker Layout & Design by: LeAnn Moorehead 

Some of this information was copied from publications by Citizens for Solar, Tucson, Arizona, Solar Box Cookers International, Sacramento California and Solar Box Journal, Seattle Washington.

All About Solar Cookers 6


Overcoming fuel shortages in developing nations 

The energy problem is far more extreme in less-developed parts of the world than in the United States. In places like eastern Africa, natives have trouble finding sufficient firewood to cook dinner or heat water to kill bacteria. Women sometimes walk 20 to 30 miles to obtain only a two-day supply of cooking fuel.

The simple solar box cooker is helping people to stay healthy in places such as Zimbabwe, Bolivia, Guatemala, Kenya, Haiti, and Pakistan. In Botswana in 1988, for example, solar box cookers were introduced because of a 50 percent malnutrition rate. This devastating health problem was not caused by food shortages but by a lack of fuel.

Two Arizona women created these cookers, Barbara Kerr, a nurse from Taylor, Arizona, and Sherry Cole, a former freelance writer from Tempe. Their solar box cookers reach temperatures as high as 325 degrees Fahrenheit and easily kill cholera bacteria at 150 degrees. The cookers are constructed with two corrugated boxes, one smaller than the other, 100 feet of aluminum foil, a pint of glue, a lot of newspaper, and a sheet of glass.

Kerr, and Cole’s first box cooker was created in the 1970s, and the first sale went to microbiologist Bob Metcalf of California University in Sacramento. Metcalf formed the organization Solar Box Cookers International in 1987 to promote the cookers for health and environmental benefits worldwide. The group’s expeditions have received support from the Pillsbury Co. Meals for Millions Applied Nutrition Project, Foster Parents Plan and Food Industry Crusade Against Hunger.

In Guatemala in 1988, Metcalf introduced solar box cookers to women in rural areas who spent one-third of their time gathering firewood. So many trees had been chopped-down that hillsides were eroding during seasonal rains and ecosystems had been destroyed.

Most people in Kenya do not have electricity and many do not have running water. Before the box cooker, meals were often prepared over a stone hearth with a wood fire. Solar cookers reduced the need for constant, tedious fuel gathering.

Solar cookers offer many other benefits to people in developing nation. They eliminate the toxins common to foods cooked directly over a fire and prevent health problems caused by constant exposure to smoke and fire.

The cookers are also used to heat and purify water. Bacteria in water are a primary cause of chronic diarrhea, which contributes to thousands of cases of infant malnutrition and death.


Next Article: - All About Solar Cookers 7 - Making a Solar Panel Cooker