Baking bread with solar energy?

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During an advanced seminar in technical development aid at the Chair of Power Electronics, students had the possibility to try out the concept of the solar bakery themselves.

Students try out their own solar bakery

Using solar energy to bake bread? It works! During an advanced seminar in technical development aid at the Chair of Power Electronics, students had the possibility to try out the concept of the solar bakery themselves. The result: roughly 100 baguettes.

What is a solar bakery?

A solar bakery is just what the name suggests. Sun rays produce electricity that is used to heat an oven. The oven can then be used independently of a public electricity supply.

This is particularly relevant for locations such as remote villages in Africa for which solar energy is the only sustainable form of energy. The other option for gaining energy is to burn wood, which makes a major contribution to deforestation and therefore to steppe formation.

The project

Seminars focusing on technical development aid are often held at the Chair of Power Electronics. The aim is to use technical knowledge to improve the living conditions of people in developing countries. These seminars often consider how to improve electricity supply.

They always focus on the real needs of people in developing countries. The Chair is in contact with people involved in development aid. In the case of the solar bakery, their contact is Fanta Yanna Coulibaly, who aims to promote the education and social development of children, especially those in rural areas, in her home country Burkina Faso through her association “Creuset d´Eveil Kinderhaus”.

In Dédougou (Burkina Faso), the solar bakery she has initiated has created jobs that allow women in particular to earn their own income. That apart, the new village bakery with the solar-powered oven now offers an additional way of providing the villagers with food. The lack of electricity meant that the village did not have an oven that could be operated sustainably until now.

Ingenieure-ohne-Grenzen, Technik-ohne-Grenzen and the Fraunhofer-IISB supported the seminar. Master baker Alfred Götz was also involved in the project. He was immediately enthusiastic about the idea and contributed not only his subject knowledge but also a lot of dough. (Most of the linked websites are only available in German.)


Questions the students explored included: How can I covert the oven to make it easily compatible with solar power? How can I cope with energy deficits? How far can I reduce heating capacity and compensate for this with other factors such as a longer baking time but still obtain tasty bread?

What is next in the pipeline?

Lots. In close collaboration with departments at the School of Business, Economics and Society and the Faculty of Humanities, Social Sciences, and Theology, the Chair of Power Electronics is to offer an interdisciplinary seminar “Technological Impact Entrepreneurship for Sustainable Development.” Students from all three faculties can work together on a project in the area of technical development aid, starting from an idea, to technical implementation, to the final business plan.

In addition, Martin März, Professor at the Chair of Power Electronics and Fanta Yanna Coulibaly, initiator of the “Solar Bakery” project, will take part in this year’s FAUinsights lecture series.

Their lectures on “Photovoltaic systems as the key to an improved quality of life and self-determined life in less well-developed regions” will focus on the influence of solar power on education and on ways towards achieving economic independence and creating jobs.

Further information:

Prof. Martin März
Chair of Power Electronics