Pilgrims visiting the shrine of 19th century saint Sai Baba in Shridi, India have a new reason to stick around: The world’s largest solar cooker. The $280,000 system, partially paid for by the Indian government, generates 3,500 kg of steam every day, or enough to make food for 20,000 people. The solar cooker can work without grid electricity–a key factor for developing countries–to run the water pump that generates power to create steam. Sai Baba’s cooker will ultimately save 100,000 kg of cooking gas annually.
Thanks to government subsidies for solar cookers, India is also home to some of the other largest solar cooking systems in the world, including one that feeds 15,000 people in Andhra Pradesh and another in Rajasthan that serves 10,000 people daily.
While massive solar cookers may make sense for pilgrimage sites, smaller, cheaper cookers are ideal for individuals. The $5 solar-powered Kyoto Box, for example, uses only cardboard, glass, and foil to cook food and boil water. For the two billion people that use firewood as fuel, Kyoto Box-like solutions are more realistic than $280,000 systems.