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" Maroc - Solar panels must be rented by the household Solar power brings delight, frustration for rural Morocco Sidi Sebaa villagers say solar energy is step forward, complain panels are too puny to provide more than just elusive taste of easier life. By Marie-Pierre Ferey - SIDI SEBAA, Morocco Sun power has brought a glimmer of urban convenience into this remote mountain village, whose poor inhabitants scratch out a living alongside chickens, sheep and goats. Until last December, the only night-time light in Sidi Sebaa, 120 kilometers (75 miles) by pot-holed road from Casablanca, came from candles or paraffin lamps. Televisions were powered by small petrol generators or from cables hooked up to truck batteries. Today, the clatter, pollution and cost of those energy sources have disappeared. Set up on home balconies to harvest sunlight, 12-volt solar panels provide households with 50 watts: enough to power between four and eight lightbulbs as well as the TV, invariably enthroned in pride of place in the main room. ""As far as I am concerned, solar power is a step forward,"" says Wafa Ouardi, a young woman who is the village's primary-school teacher. Life in Sidi Sebaa ""is very difficult,"" she says. With the magic of electricity, she can correct the pupils' schoolwork at night, watch television or even a film on her DVD player. Others, though, complain that the panels are too puny to provide more than just an elusive taste of an easier life. People here are asking why they were not connected to the national electricity grid,"" says an elder. ""Solar power is only enough for a few lightbulbs and the TV, but not the fridge."" The panel initiative is the result of a tie-up between France's state-run electricity producer, EDF, the French oil and gas giant Total and a solar power specialist they jointly own, Temasol. ""The electricity grid provides an economic structure,"" says Mohammed Berdai, director of a Moroccan agency, the Centre for the Development of Renewable Energies (CDER). ""It not only brings electricity but also roads, shops, other activities."" ""Solar power is clearly considered here to be the poor man's energy source,"" admits Henri Boye, EDF's chief representative in Morocco. ""But when it comes to remote villages, you can't cable up everywhere, it would cost too much. The choice is not whether you get hooked up to the grid or solar power, it is between solar power and nothing."" Forty-four percent of Morocco's 30 million people live in rural areas. Since 1994, the number of countryside dwellers with electricity has risen from 17 percent to just over than 50 percent, virtually all of them connected to the grid. The goal is 100 percent by 2007, and solar power is a major part of the mix, along with wind turbines, mini-networks powered by petrol generators or, of course, mains electricity. Whenever it costs more than 27,000 dirhams (2,700 euros, 3,200 dollars) to connect a household up to the grid, engineers turn to solar. The panels are not a gift. They must be rented by the household. The price is heavily subsidised thanks to international support but at 65 dirhams (6.5 euros, 7.8 dollars) a month is still high enough to ensure that the household looks after the equipment. Consumers who are already connected to the grid pay a small tax - two percent of their monthly bill - to help fellow Moroccans get access to solar. To win over doubters, Temasol undertakes to maintain the panels for 10 years after purchase. Temasol has already provided solar power for 6,000 rural homes, and is bidding for more work under a programme tranche to supply 110,000 households. ""We want to prove that solar is cost effective,"" Temasol's director, Stephane Maureau. The company is planning to offer a ""fridge"" option for households - if they pay more, they will get a bigger panel to generate more power which will enable them to run a refrigerator. But, says Maureau, around 20 percent of customers are too poor ever to envisage this. _____ Inde - Villages in India to get alternative power NAGPUR, , May. 31 (UPI) -- India plans to use alternative energy to provide electricity to about 25,000 villages identified by the Planning Commission. The Press Trust of India reported Monday that the Minister of State for Non-Conventional Energy Sources Vilas Muttemwar told reporters in Nagpur that geographical barriers prohibit providing electricity to the villages by conventional means by 2012. Muttemwar said there is a huge potential for non-conventional methods including wind power and solar energy in India. A meeting of energy ministers has been convened June 15 in Delhi, according to Muttemwar. _____ Afrique - Lots of sunshine but little solar power May 29 2004 at 12:30PM By Ulrike Koltermann and Ralf E Krueger What had been the star of the world summit on sustainable energy two years ago in Johannesburg can be seen next to the highway to Pretoria. A huge solar collector gleams in the sun on the grounds of the South African Development Bank. But the hi-tech machine has a flaw: The round disc is rarely correctly positioned, so that it usually points Earthwards, rather than towards the sun as it is supposed to do. The solar collector, looking like some kind of monument, actually could be seen as a symbol of the application of solar energy technology in Africa. Visitors often wonder why the rooftops on a continent so greatly bathed in sunshine don't have more solar cells. Botswana is the leader in tapping solar energy in order to heat water ""Only those people who have a lot of money can afford it,"" is the explanation given by David Otieno of the Kenyan environmental group Solarnet in Kenya. He says an estimated 200 000 households do use solar power. It costs at least €500 (600 dollars) for the investment in the equipment to convert sunshine into energy - about one-half a person's average annual income in Kenya. Otieno reports than in the neighbouring country of Ethiopia, as much solar energy is delivered in one day than Germany uses in one and a half years. ""It is above all radios, TV sets and mobile phone rechargers which are operated on solar power,"" he said. ""But the potential for this form of energy is far from being exhausted."" This is also the view of Beate Baethke, solar energy expert for the German investment and development company DEG. 'The politicians want to protect the old state monopolies' ""In southern Namibia there have been measurements showing that just through the sun's radiation alone 3 000 kilowatt-hours could be produced annually per one square metre,"" she said. ""This is several times over the levels found in California."" It is no wonder, then, that the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) is pushing the use of solar energy in Africa. For three years UNEP has been gathering data in the research of the continent's solar and wind power potential. In many parts of Africa, solar energy does not even have to compete against conventional power sources as is the case in Europe. Electricity networks often do not extend beyond a city's boundaries. ""The question here is not 'solar power or coal', but rather 'solar power or no electricity?',"" commented UNEP energy expert Eric Usher. In Zambia, for example, only about five percent of the population has electricity, with solar power conversion the most widely-used source. Botswana, by contrast, is the leader in tapping solar energy in order to heat water. ""There is scarcely a public building there in which the warm water has not been heated by the sun,"" said Usher. In South Africa, Germany is promoting the electrification of remote regions. Under a €15,8-million loan, work began in May 2002 to provide 27 000 households, schools and health clinics with solar power. Prior to that, the European Union had invested €12,5-million in solar energy, the aim to provide 1,000 rural schools with electricity for the first time ever. But the project suffered a setback due to theft of equipment and above all vandalism. Professor Linda Chisolm of South Africa's national research council HSRC cites a further reason for the difficult position of solar power in Africa. ""There are indications that solar facilities are regarded as a second-class source of electricity in many rural regions, and that they are seen as too weak and too expensive while blocking the greatly-desired access to electric power grids,"" she said. Besides such problems of acceptance, many experts also regard the conventional power concerns as an obstacle, and the same applies to governments' unwillingness to try out alternative energy sources. ""The politicians want to protect the old state monopolies,"" says Otieno of Solarnet in Kenya. ""For many governments in Africa, solar energy is something suspicious."" But he says there is some hope. In Kenya, solar collectors come tax-free, and further accessories are also soon to be made exempt from taxes. Namibia is also going down some new paths, says Beate Baethke. ""There, state-recognised technicians can make applications for their customers, and then they receive subsidies,"" she said. Above all, farms with no link to the Namibian electricity grid are more and more augmenting their diesel-powered generators with photovoltaic facilities. - Sapa-DP "
" Maroc - Solar panels must be rented by the household Solar power brings delight, frustration for rural Morocco Sidi Sebaa villagers say solar energy is step forward, complain panels are too puny to provide more than just elusive taste of easier life. By Marie-Pierre Ferey - SIDI SEBAA, Morocco Sun power has brought a glimmer of urban convenience into this remote mountain village, whose poor inhabitants scratch out a living alongside chickens, ...
Afrique ; Inde ; Maroc ; Site isolé ; Solaire photovoltaïque
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