Try New Ways of Cooking with GoSun Stove: An Interview with Patrick Sherwin

September 22, 2016

As the whole world are taking steps to build a sustainable future, solar power, a major player in the renewable energy portfolio, is getting into every aspect of our lives – solar panels, solar cars, solar watches… Now, you can even make meals only with sunlight, with the practical, highly efficient solar cooker, GoSun Stove, thanks to its inventor, Patrick Sherwin.

Patrick is a solar energy expert living in Cincinnati, Ohio, USA. With an experience of working with green building and solar energy for more than 15 years, Patrick started his own solar cooking business with the product GoSun Stove in 2013, which raised over two thousand million dollars in merely five days since its first appearance on Kickstarter. In this interview, Patrick talks about the innovative product GoSun stove and his visions on how the product would help people in developing countries to live a better life.

What is GoSun Stove?

GoSun stove is a fuel-free cooking device that Patrick invented based on solar thermal technology. It allows the user to make a meal in about 20 minutes with sunlight alone anywhere on the planet, whether it is a freezingly cold winter or scorching summer. GoSun stove has been around for about three years ago, getting started on the crowd funding website of Kickstarter. It has done well in the last two years, with more than 10 thousand units sold to customers in 50 different countries since it first enters into the market. In its Facebook community, more than three thousand of happy users are sharing their recipes and ideas about how to cook more efficiently and cleanly. It is expected that in the next few years, GoSun Stove will become a renowned household brand name with more customers using GoSun as a convenient and efficient cooking solution.

More than For-Profit

Besides serving thousands of customers in developed countries, Patrick has also spent years doing work in developing countries, which is part of the company’s mission that very particularly allies with the Better World. In fact, Patrick is creating a dual business model that combines for-profit and nonprofit (or social enterprise).  The product is not only sold throughout north America, Europe, Japan, Australia, etc. but also changes the lives of about two and a half billion people who still cook with wood and charcoal every day.

First of all, GoSun Stove can reduce the rates of deforestation in locations where the conventional way of cooking is still the majority because it will no longer be necessary for those people to cut down trees to gather wood fuel. In addition, cooking with wood or charcoal can produce a lot of smoke because of low combustion efficiency. The smoke goes directly to people’s lungs, causing around four million premature deaths per year, which is more than deaths from AIDS and malaria combined. Except for kids, women are particularly affected by smoke-related health problems because women are doing the majority of the cooking.  GoSun stove can completely eliminate the risk of smoke inhalation as users won’t be exposed to smoke when cooking with sunlight.

GoSun stove also offers a unique opportunity to save families from the cycle of poverty and facilitate gender equality. In most third world countries, women are stuck in the laborious process of spending the day gathering wood for fuel  and cooking, so they don’t have any spare time to get an education and do the things they like. Now with GoSun, women would be able to cook food safely and quickly with no cost, which allows them to spend more time exploring the outside world and make money. GoSun stove has already assisted one woman in Guatemala, who is using the product to create a micro-enterprise bakery, so she can share bread and freshly baked goods in the communities.

For Patrick, part of the future goal for GoSun is to build social enterprises that are self-sustaining in at least two continents. He is planning to bring the technology to Africa and South America, where an easy-to-use, safe, and efficient cooking tool is desperately needed. Hopefully, at some point, the social enterprise will outrun the business itself, leading to bigger-scale social changes in the developed countries.

Vision on Future Energy Portfolio

Patrick fully believes that solar power is the inevitable future for human beings because nothing else can beat solar energy on its ability to provide free, clean, safe, reliable energy. Having witnessed the changes in many of the communities he has been involved in installing solar, he is convinced that going solar is the trend now because solar is cheaper than conventional fuel sources in many places.

Majority people think conventional fuels are cheaper than solar because the long-term benefits associated with solar power are underestimated. Many arguments against solar centers on the return of investment (ROI) or the amount of capital needed to get the solar system started or installed. But even for today’s multicrystal solar module, which has an average conversion rate of 15 percent, the users can have an ROI in less than 10 years, while the system will typically last for more than thirty years. Therefore, even in purely economic scale, solar is already trumping coal, oil, and gas. It’s a win-win for solar energy companies and consumers to use solar power.

Want to learn more about the product? You can check out the product review here or go to the GoSun website for detailed information.

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