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German’s solar ovens sunbake Mexican tortillas

Germans might be one of the last peoples you might expect to contribute to advancements in tortilla baking technology, but one German entrepreneur has exported his solar ovens to Mexico to help make the perfect sun-baked tortilla.

Gregor Schäpers designed and installed giant circular solar panels in the small town of El Sauz to show that the sun’s rays can cook up a storm too.

Schäpers, who has lived in this town 180 kilometres (110 miles) north of Mexico City since 2003, hopes that this environmentally-friendly solar cooker can ultimately slash energy bills in Mexico’s poor rural communities.

“You can cook for a group of up to 60 people per reflector,” Schäpers told news agency AFP, wearing a checkered shirt, sunglasses and a wide straw hat under a clear sky in the Sierra Madre Oriental mountain range.

He adapted solar energy-harnessing technology created by the Austrian Wolfgang Scheffler. But the parts for his oversize solar cooker were all built in Mexico, by the company he founded, Trinysol.

“It’s good for social and economic development in rural communities,” he said of his cooker and the business of building it.

The glass and aluminum panels are either 10-square-meters or (107-square-foot) or 16-square-meters (170-square-foot) in size. Some are placed at a 45-degree angle while others rest almost horizontal, facing the sky. The reflectors can generate temperatures hotter than 1,020 degrees Celsius (1,868 degrees Fahrenheit).

Once the powerful heat reaches the cooker, it is shared between a cauldron, a griddle to make tortillas, and an oven. The solar panels can be used in restaurants or bakeries.

The solar cooker system is costly to build, between $4,000 and $5,000 depending on size. But once it’s set up, it produces free energy, Schäpers said. Each reflector saves the equivalent of 60 liters (16 gallons) of gas each month. And the oven is environmentally-friendly, using renewable energy and creating zero greenhouse gas emissions.


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