Out of Africa

By Pamela Grossman

Sometimes it’s best to start from scratch. The Namibian village of Dordabis lacked a system to power communications, so Motorola stepped in. The company is currently testing a wind- and solar-energy system to provide power for cell phones, as well as Internet use. The trial is the first of its kind in the world. For developing areas, this fueling system makes financial as well as environmental sense: “Remote rural areas have to use off-grid power,” says Thomas Quirke, marketing director of Motorola. “A lot of operating costs can go to refueling diesel generators, or even flying materials to the sites by helicopter. If wind and solar power is shown to be commercially viable, rural markets will adopt it.”

The site was activated last spring, and has been generating power ever since. “The wind turbine has been active through late afternoon and at night, so the batteries are getting regular 24-hour charge,” says Quirke. As an added bonus from Mother Nature, the wind has been clearing sand and dust off the solar panels. Next up is continued testing in Africa and Asia, in developed as well as less developed countries. 

Issue 25

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