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Solar Panel

Africa’s First Solar Powered Village To Be Used As A Blueprint For Renewable Cities

Id Mjahdi is a small community located near Morocco’s Atlantic coast. What was previously thought of as just a small town in a sunny place is now making headlines as Africa’s first fully solar powered village. As of this month, the entire village became completely dependent on solar energy as its power source. Not one city in the entire continent of Africa has ever taken advantage of solar technology to this degree before. 

Currently, less than 1% of the solar power being used globally today comes from Africa. Even more astounding, Africa has the highest potential to use solar power exclusively as a power source, due to its positioning in relation to the equator and sun exposure. However, the continent overall lacks the ability to support all the infrastructure that goes into using solar power, but Id Mjahdi is changing that. 

According to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), Morocco in general gets 35% of its electricity and power from renewable energy sources, and by 2030 that percentage will increase to 50%, according to IRENA. The country also is already known for housing the world’s largest solar powered farm, the Noor-Ouarzazate complex. Id Mjahdi is now further contributing to Morocco’s renewable energy use and is being used as the “blueprint” for other villages in the continent that can use solar power over standard electricity. 

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Cleanergy is the solar power company that was behind powering the entire village. The company had a goal of creating a sustainable model for bringing complete solar power to remote and underdeveloped communities. When they created the plan, they looked for a village in which electricity could greatly improve the community members ways of life without completely industrializing the village. When they came upon Id Mjahdi, they knew it would be the perfect place to implement the first version of their solar power model; before the solar panels were installed, villagers would use candle light to work, and tree bark for heat and cooking purposes. They didn’t even have a close clean water source. 

“The first step in the $188,000 project was to build a water tower for the community. The next stage was to install a power station with 32 solar photovoltaic panels, which generate 8.32 kilowatts of electricity for distribution via a mini-grid. The power station is connected to around 20 homes in the village, serving more than 50 people,” according to Mohamed Lasry, Cleanergy’s founder. 

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In addition, Lasry stated that each home was provided with a fridge, a water heater, television, oven, and outlets for charging. The network of solar panels throughout the village have a battery that can give up to five hours of electricity post-daylight hours (once the sun goes down). Now, the village is truly thriving. Previously, girls had to miss school to stay home and travel far to get clean water for their families, now, with the help of Cleanergy, they have the resources to give women and children a proper education. Cleanergy also helped the village create workshops for valuable life skills such as learning to read and write, train for scholarships, and learn traditional values. 

Lasry states that the model that was used for Id Mjahdi can be replicated and used for villages of 100 to 1,000 people. Currently there are 800 other Moroccan villages that are without electricity, and the World Bank estimates that worldwide over 840 million people don’t have access to electricity. However, the World Bank also estimates that using the mini-grid renewable energy systems, such as the one Cleanergy created, could give electricity to 500 million of those 840 million individuals by 2030. 

“Our plan is to show [Id Mjahdi] as an example. People change — they have more time, they can have money, they can go to the market, they can buy what they need. For deprived communities seeking economic stability that won’t hurt the environment, this solar village shines bright,” says Lasry.

Electric Plane

World’s First Electric Plane Flies For 15 Minutes in Canada

Climate issues and air pollution are a top priority for many countries around the world with the number of electric cars in many towns and cities steadily on the increase. But what about the aviation world?

It is a known fact that air travel is damaging the planet with American flights responsible for around 11 percent of our CO2 emissions. But what can we do to reduce it?

This week saw a seaplane, completely powered by electric, take its maiden flight in Vancouver, Canada, leading some to claim it as a “world first” for the aviation sector.

Harbour Air – who has a fleet of airplanes that carries around 500,000 passengers annually – and magniX carried out a test flight of an aircraft that had been fitted with an electric motor. And although the plane was only a small six seater aircraft, it has been hailed as leading the way to “the world’s first all-electric commercial fleet.”

Taking off near the Fraser River in Vancouver, the electric seaplane continued for around 15 minutes before landing safely.

It is hopeful that by bringing electric into the aviation sector, the amount of carbon emissions could be reduced. Similar to that of the motor industry, where electric cars produce between 17 – 30 percent less carbon emissions to that of a petrol or diesel powered car, it is believed electric airplanes can reduce carbon emissions significantly, something the high-polluting sector should be embracing.

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In a joint statement released by magniX and Harbour Air, it was claimed that “this historic flight signifies the start of the third era in aviation – the electric age.”

magniX, an Australian company, actually launched the plane at the Paris Air Show in June this year and states that the propulsion system – the companies used a DHC-2 de Havilland Beaver which has a 750-horsepower (560kW) magni500 propulsion system – enabled them to create a “clean and efficient way to power airplanes.”

It is believed that Harbour Air, a Canadian operator of seaplanes, are aiming to have an all-electric fleet of airplanes, they currently have 40 aircraft, by 2022, however this all depends on whether they secure the relevant regulatory and safety approvals.

There are many benefits of having electric airplanes with zero emissions as well as a much lower operating cost. Yet they are proving to be a bigger challenge to engineers, unlike the concept of electric trains and cars, which do not travel such long distances. Currently the plane’s batteries are only able to fly about 100 miles in between battery charging, which severely hampers the majority of flights.

The size of the motors and batteries that would be needed to not only launch an electric plane but to also keep it in the air – and for several hours at a time – would mean that it could be difficult for the planes to be flown.

However these are only minor issues that can be resolved eventually due to the rapid advancements in electric flights. In 2017 a non-commercial electric plane crossed both the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans during a round the world trip.

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But will moving airplanes to electric engines actually help cut gas emissions in the aviation sector?

There has been increasing concern regarding the amount of pollution from flying and the impact it has on the planet, with many travelers aiming to reduce their carbon footprint in any way they can. For instance, many try to travel by alternative methods where possible, such as train, while others are utilizing websites that help give something back to the environment – such as BedandTree who plant a tree each time you book your travel through them – while many businesses now hold their cross-country business meetings via video conferencing apps – such as Zoom – therefore removing their impact on the environment completely.

Swiss bank UBS released a survey recently showing that flyers are trying to reduce their air travel due to their environmental concerns, with “flygskam” or “flight shame” spreading throughout the country. And in the United Kingdom it has been claimed that by 2050 the biggest source of air pollution will be from aviation.

However, the prospect of using electric airplanes for long haul flights continues to be a major challenge for those in the aviation sector.

Although there has been a significant advancement in generators, power distribution, electrical motors and controls, battery technology has not advanced as much.

With this in mind, the electric airplane we saw recently in Canada can fly around 100 miles (160km) on lithium battery power, according to AFP.

magniX chief executive Roei Ganzarski commented that “the [flight] range now is not where we’d love it to be, but it’s enough to start the revolution.” He has also questioned ‘’if people are willing to drive an hour to work, why not fly 15 minutes to work?”

Electrical Wiring

How To Tell If Your Home’s Electrical Wiring Is Safe

According to The Electrical Safety Foundation, the leading cause of all home fires are electrical mishaps. While there are incidents where these mishaps are out of the homeowners control, there are plenty of preventable electric mistakes that can cause extremely uncontrollable fires to spark. 

Apartment Therapy is an online real estate/home and garden website that gives the best tips for maintaining an amazing, and SAFE, living space. The site recently surveyed and interviewed a large group of professional electricians who have experienced homeowners making simple electrical mistakes that have left them devastated by fire damage. The first tip is to avoid putting any sort of power adapter/surge protectors into two prong outlets.

“Three-prong outlets didn’t become standard in North American homes until the late 1960’s, so while modern homes should be in good shape, there are plenty of homes out there with old two-prong outlets. Because many new appliances—computers, blenders, and more—use three prongs, you might be tempted to nab adapters. Don’t do it, instead, you should consider upgrading the outlet if you need to regularly use three-pronged plugs,” says Mark Dawson, chief operating officer at Mister Sparky, to Apartment Therapy

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Avoid putting your outlets through this

Two prong outlets in general are much weaker, since most houses developed after the 1960’s weren’t even built with them. Because of this, these outlets tend to be much older as well, which leads us to the next mistake. Old outlets that are loose or breaking down are extremely unsafe for children, pets, and just in general, as they can lead to fires. When outlets are loose, the wiring and “blades”, which are the pieces that attach the outlet to the wires, can heat up quickly from not being in their proper place. 

Two-prong outlets in general are outdated, and if your outlet is broken then it’s definitely outdated, so you should get them checked out, which brings us to our next tip; make sure you’re checking any old wiring in your home! According to Apartment Therapy, electric wiring is meant to last anywhere from thirty to forty years, anything more can pose a serious fire risk. If you’re in an older home, or just in general believe the wiring in your house is outdated, Dawson recommends getting a local trusted electrician to perform an electrical survey of the home. This is a common procedure in the electrician community in which they would assess all the electric wiring, outlets, power sourcing, etc. in the house to make sure it looks up to code. 

Dawson also says to make sure you’re keeping an eye on flickering light bulbs that are connected directly into your power sources. This would include the lighting installed into the ceilings and walls directly as opposed to a lamp or anything else with its own wiring system.

“While the most likely explanations are harmless and easy to fix, a flickering light could also be an early warning sign of dangerous wiring problems. Start by troubleshooting the bulb by screwing it back in to check the connection and, if that doesn’t work, replace the bulb. If the flickering continues, you may have an unknown power surge or faulty wiring,” Dawson says.

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An example of breaking electrical panels in the home

Dawson also warned in the same sentiment to make sure you’re being careful not to overload your home’s circuit board panels. Signs of this include blinking, dimming, or flickering lights, frequently tripped circuit breakers or blown fuses, warm or discolored outlet covers, and crackling and buzzing sounds from outlets. If even one of these things is occurring in your home at a consistent rate, contact a local electrician, and get that survey! You might have to update your homes entire panel or rewire, which are heavy costs but better safe than sorry. 

The last major tip that homeowners should be aware of is making sure that everything they’re using in their home is being used the right way and is working properly. To specify, all appliances in the home should be working. Don’t keep using a hairdryer or microwave or blender if its integrity has been impaired. Broken appliances can send electrical signals into your homes wiring improperly, causing wear and tear which can lead to a large electrical fire. In addition, make sure any electricity used outside is being used correctly. For instance, any extension cord that’s used in an outdoor setting (Christmas lights, driveway lighting, etc) needs to be specifically made to withstand outdoor conditions. 

“If an extension cord is not rated for outdoor use, it’s at risk of overheating and potentially causing a fire. On new extension cords, check packaging for outdoor use ratings; on extension cords you may already own, check the cord itself for the letters “W” or “S.” A “W” is for outdoors, while an “S” is typically for inside the home,” says Dawson. 

Overall, just make sure that you’re keeping an eye on all the electrical aspects of your home. Faulty wiring can be easily overlooked, but there are signs that can help you prevent any sort of fire from occurring in the first place. If you’re unsure about your homes wiring and electrical status, take a few minutes to call a local electrician to get information about getting your home surveyed. It’s typically on the cheaper side for electrician costs, and will give you the security you need to know your home is up to code and running smoothly.