I am not a huge fan of gas cooking, having some deep seated fear of the gas escaping and exploding. Perhaps a few too many delayed starts on a gas stove, the faint smell, the ‘whooshing’ sound and singed eyebrows… A more rational cause of concern is the environmental considerations - however complex. Gas loses more heat to the surrounding air, but it provides instant heat, and has greater control over temperature. Electric ignition for gas stoves can also save up to 40% fuel over continually-burning pilot light – even more if you cook as infrequently as I do these days.
But then there is the whole question of fuel source. Electricity is generated from carbon fuel sources and some small percentage of renewable sources, depending on your supplier. Natural gas, once a reasonable alternative, is quickly reaching the end of the 'easy' access sources, and is now requiring fracking, which is triggering a whole host of other problems – such as earthquakes.
Solar power cooking has two basic options. One is direct concentration of solar rays on the target food. Relatively simple, but lest you think this is just for camping, watch for Lapin Kulta’s Solar Kitchen. Joining forces to bring this about are world-acclaimed Catalan designer Martí Guixé, Finnish food visionary Antto Melasniemi and Lapin Kulta beer. Opening during Milan Design Week 2011 in April, the Lapin Kulta Solar Kitchen Restaurant is celebrating the sun, gourmet cooking, beer, life and art on a grand tour of Europe.
solar kettles that use vacuum tube technology to capture, accumulate and store solar energy. Since solar vacuum glass tubes work on accumulated rather than concentrated solar thermal energy, solar kettles only need diffused sunlight to work and need no sun tracking at all. The vacuum insulating properties can keep the heated water for hours.
These are some simple solutions, which, in our very complex modern life, are not so simple to implement. Not really practical, nor really a serious solution - but hopefully a bit of a stimulous for some re-thinking. So for the time being, my own immediate practical application is the electric instant kettle, whilst I continue to plan/ research a residentially sized CHP power plant.