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Local youth group reports saving on baking costs by using sunlight

afmago bakery cakes

Oven operator removing baked cakes from the solar five oven. Photo courtecy.

Misire Afmago Youth Group which owns Afmago Bakery is saving Sh3,000 monthly electricity bill by solar five oven which uses solar energy from sunlight taking about 45 minutes baking time as compared to over one hour using electricity.

The Nyamira County youth group which does value addition on banana and sweet potatoes to bake breads, pancakes and scones was wholly using electricity to bake their products and sometimes power could go off midway further lowering their production quality and quantity affecting their products’ performance in the market.

“Other than the high electricity bills, depending on electricity alone was very risky. In case of power blackout while baking, a single bread for example, which is normally produced as 400g end up produced as 300g or even 250g,” said Afro Ochieng, the group chairperson.

“This make us lose over 200g per bread thus instead of selling one bread at Sh45 as usual we are forced to reduce the price to about Sh20 because of the reduced size. The breads are also produced darker and not sparkling brown hence unattractive to customers.”

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Other products like pancakes and scones which are produced as 180g each end up losing over 30g when the same problem occurs.

Solar five oven is easy to control as it has two wheels by which an operator can wheel it to face the direction of sunlight at any time. The operator can also observe the weather so that in case there is lack of enough sunlight, they can switch to charcoal oven or use electricity to avoid any effect.

“We have not fully forgotten other sources of energy especially this rainy season when it can be cloudy throughout the day and the solar oven may not be appropriate. We can therefore switch to charcoal oven or electricity to continue with the production,” said Ochieng.

The oven is a model with five square meters of mirror and can power a three-kilowatt oven at 200 degrees Celsius. This is by converting 1000 watts of radioactive energy per square meter (at noon on a clear day) present in sunlight to “usable heat energy” at about 60 per cent efficiency.

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“This is the technology that supplies green energy at low cost for thermal processes. The models comes in different capacities depending on the square metre mirror used,” said Collins Paul Obale, Afmago Bakery site manager.

“Whatever the model, this technology is capable of capturing direct solar energy and make it usable at low cost over a large temperature range which is up to up to 300°C of temperature.”

solar five bakery oven afmago youth group

A solar five oven. Photo courtecy.

According to Obale, this technology was introduced to the group in June 2016 by GoSol, a Tampere, Finland company in partnership with Word Vision organisation.  The solar five oven was donated by Gosol to the group which was further given technical support.

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The GoSol project seen the technology built and installed for four groups such as Bao Beach group in Kisumu County, Koptige group in Nandi County and Yier Ngima group in Siaya County.

Afro can be reached on +254 721203669 while GoSol company can be accessed through www.gosol.org

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