Years of Development
Since the founding of GoSun, I have held the belief that solar cooking has the potential to help change the lives of millions who are burned by energy poverty. While conducting our first pilot project in Guatemala in 2014, (
with the UN Foundation’s Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves) I saw first hand the impact that practical and culturally appropriate solar cooking technology can make. Beyond saving food and reducing smoke, our prototypes provided a much easier way to cook, and expanded the participant’s culinary horizons, giving many of them the first opportunity to bake in their life.
With the conclusion of the Guatemalan pilot, the focus of our business turned back inward. The following years, 2015 and 2016, were incredibly productive for GoSun. A number of new products were released and thousands of new customers were made. Despite seemingly little outward progress in emerging markets, we were laying the groundwork needed to scale GoSun into an international force for change.
New Potential: Solar Ovens in Peru
In the Winter of 2016, we were contacted by the Peruvian Ministry of Mines and Energy expressing interest in our technology and its ability to address many of the unique problems facing its citizens. Within a month, I was on a plane with a newly completed GoSun Grill, ready to showcase what we had developed so far, for a number of stakeholders at a UN conference aimed at addressing clean cooking.
The conference was a success and allowed us to present and demo our technology to a number of stakeholders, including the UNDP, GIZ, MicroSol, the US Embassy, and other clean cooking social entrepreneurs in the country. This first trip was a success and a plan was formulated for launching a micro-pilot of the GoSun cooking technology in 2017.
Understanding the Problem
Peru is unique in that it has a significant indigenous population (45%) and contains nearly every ecosystem imaginable. Many of the Inca, the largest group of Peru
population, live in remote areas at high elevations, void of combustible fuels with the exception of dung and the curiously shaped Yareta plant,
many of which are thousands of years old and grow no more than 1.5cm per year. (More on Yareta here.)
With poor access to energy infrastructure, local economies that may not include the use of money, and large amounts of solar energy potential available, these communities present unique challenges and opportunities for solar cooking.
Clean cooking interventions of the past have had mixed results, with liquid petroleum gas (LPG) having yet to catch on in rural areas despite government subsidy schemes. Now, with a new, more aggressive policy on the books, thanks to the agreements of COP21, MINEM is mobilizing unprecedented resources to reach the country’s most disenfranchised populations using innovative technology, regulations, and radically accessible finance schemes. Their ultimate goal and commitment is to reduce Peru’s carbon emissions by 30% relative to Business-as-Usual by 2030, exploring interventions ranging from electric vehicles and utility-scale solar to wind energy and micro solar grids. (For a more nuanced understanding of the situation in Peru, check out the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstove’s Peru Market Assessment here
Our Next Steps
Initial testing of a modified GoSun Grill is scheduled for the end of 2017 and will involve a number of partners across Peru (including GIZ and the UNDP) that will test the stoves’ potential in climates ranging from the mountains to the rainforest and in communities ranging from the urban working poor to indigenous subsistence farmers. From this initial run, we aim to glean insights that can be incorporated into a larger pilot in 2018, using a model designed for a radically lower price point, currently in the final stages of development. (Expect big news come Q1 2018.)
On reflection, our slow, yet steady, progress into emerging markets is not a sign of failure but rather maturity; the type of maturity that allows a company to scale quickly from a foundation of experience and sound business practices. Since our first explorations in Guatemala, I have been convinced of the potential GoSun has to change the lives of many. This project in Peru is just one front in our global initiative, now taking shape with the help of partners and passionate social entrepreneurs in Bangladesh, Liberia, Ghana and Puerto Rico.
Now with a mature international dealer network, a successful round of investment and an emerging market model in the final stages of development, we are finally primed to make an impact by bringing our technology to those in the world who could benefit from what we do the most.
To follow GoSun Global’s next steps, or collaborate with our global initiatives, please register by subscribing to our Global Updates Mailing List here.