Thursday, October 17, 2013

"I’d put my money on the Sun and Solar Energy, what a source of Power! I hope we don’t have to wait until oil and coal run out, before we tackle that." -- Thomas Edison

I hope you notice who wrote the above quote and know how long ago that was.  We are doing what we can here, but it is very expensive still.  We spent about $2,000 for the solar panels, inverters, wiring, and installation for just two panels, but they provide enough energy to keep our security lights burning every night and with two lights in our house and one in each guest cottage.  We have twelve hours of sunlight a day here, so you would think that solar energy is the only way to go.  We have had quotes for making the whole mission solar, but the cheapest quote we have is for $20,000 USD.  We pay about $2,000 a year for our electricity from the national power company (Tanesco), so it would take ten years to pay that back.  A man named Bjorn Lomborg has said, "We need to invest dramatically in green energy, making solar panels so cheap that everybody wants them. Nobody wanted to buy a computer in 1950, but once they got cheap, everyone bought them."  That's still true, it is still too expensive, but here in Tanzania we are working on solar phone chargers, and there are villages where every house has one solar light.  John is working with people in Musoma who are working on helping rural areas that have no power options other than solar, and many have benefitted from this, but there is still so much to do.  The red light in the picture at the right is on when the national grid is providing power, so when we are running the generator and the light comes back on, we know to turn the generator off.  We probably spend about $100 a month for fuel for the generator because it powers the refrigerator and our computers.  One day, I hope soon, the cost for the panels and inverters will drop enough for us to go completely solar.  In the meantime, we pay more than the local Tanzanians do for our power, so they are charged less because of the overage that we pay.  I guess it isn't all bad, but the national power system is antiquated and we are used to daily power outages.  When we first moved here, the power went off at six am and came back on at six pm for six months.  We were surprised that we didn't' die and learned to work around it.  My point is that we shouldn't have to--solar power shouldn't be that expensive.  We are still thinking about and keeping abreast of the changes and new products, but not all of that is available here.  In the meantime, the sun keeps shining.

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