Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Renewable energy, Smara refugee camp

The following photo essay is from Tony Iltis. I posted this just for a snapshot of a very different place to where most of us live, and to remind everyone that there are still refugees from colonial occupation in the modern world. 

Smara is a refugee camp, named after a West Saharan town, near Tindouf in far Western Algeria. West Sahara was formerly a Spanish colony, but in 1975 Spain abandoned it and Morocco invaded. The exile government and many of the Saharawi people have lived in refugee camps for decades in the unforgiving desert of western Algeria. The Australian Western Sahara Association is a good place to go for more information.

"Solar energy is standard for domestic energy (such as it is) in most of the West Sahara refugee camps. The first photo shows panels on sale at a shop. Imported from Europe, and costing €300-600, this is an expensive — but necessary — outlay for most families in the camps.

(click on the pictures to see a larger image)
"The following two pictures were taken where I was staying with 5 British marathon runners and show how it works — simply by charging up car batteries, from which power is then fed into rooms.

"In our case, to  a single fluorescent strip propped up against the wall. There are some appliances but it's kind of limited by the amount of power supplied.

"Larger buildings, such the shop in the next picture use a combination of diesel generators and wind power. Even in these cases the power was weak (110 volts, I think) — recharging phones, cameras, computers, etc, took a long time!

"I spent one night in the February 27 camp which, uniquely among the camps, is on the Algerian grid. The difference was very noticable, even in daylight with the amount of domestic appliances giving the place a much more "normal" feel, despite the buildings being basically the same as the other camps."

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