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Solar baking: How the sun is helping to reduce the cost of bread in Lebanon

Toufic Hamdan invented the solar-powered convection oven to help reduce production costs of bread.
Toufic Hamdan invented the solar-powered convection oven to help reduce production costs of bread. Copyright Reuters
Copyright Reuters
By Euronews Green with Reuters
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Did you know you can power an oven with the heat of the sun?

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Food prices have skyrocketed in Lebanon during a three-year economic crisis.

Many people are struggling to afford even basic foods like bread. In some cases, the cost of a loaf has increased seven times in the space of a month.

In an effort to reduce production costs and therefore sales prices, inventor Toufic Hamdan has created a commercial bakery oven powered by the sun’s heat.

How does a solar convection oven work?

On the rooftop of a bakery in the Lebanese village of Remhala, 27km south of Beirut, startup "Partners With Sun" has installed a pioneering solar power system.

Large silver mirrors capture the sun’s rays and magnify it to build heat. The heat is transported by a transfer fluid which is then used to help operate a convection oven, allowing it to reach a baking temperature of around 300 Celsius.

"This oven will save bakery owners about 80 per cent of their monthly usage of diesel, and therefore it would reduce the price of the bread bundle that reaches the consumer," explains Hitaf Ghazal, co-founder and operations manager of Partners With Sun.

“Practically, each bakery would save at least around 10 tonnes of diesel a month,” adds co-founder Hamdan.

The solar convection oven uses an innovative heat exchange mechanism, for which the patent is currently under review in the Netherlands. The oven is designed for industrial use in the baking industry.

Al-Wissam bakery in Remhala is testing out the pilot oven provided by Partners With Sun.

"It saves on our production's diesel consumption and gives us better quality,” says owner Wissam Shamseddine. “We are still in the trial period we started with them. I hope we can continue and it gives us what we need so we can rely on it.”

What is the environmental impact of a solar oven?

By using clean, renewable energy, the new oven reduces energy costs and food prices. It also avoids the need for polluting fuel boilers.

"We aim, between now and 2030, to bury the last boiler operating on diesel or electricity in food and beverage production," says Toufic.

Watch the video above to learn more.

Video editor • Hannah Brown

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