Concentrating my Energies

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CSP tower

Two more days and we will be leaving Facebook for Good, so far about 20 of my contacts on FB have registered to the site or subscribed to the newsletter. If, and I encourage you to do so as it encourages me, you ever wish to comment, you will need to register with the site. This is necessary as to allow unregistered comments only results in endless spam offering get rich from working at home scams or 50% off the latest penis or breast enlargement pills. Those ‘friends’ on FB that have chose not to have chosen not to register or subscribe have similarly chosen not to stay in contact. The web sites have always been my preferred means of communication and similarly allow me to concentrate my energies on that which I feel is important:

Turning a Blue Planet Green

I have been marching this road for a long time and can trace my green credentials right back to 1978 when at the age of 12, after reading an article in Wildlife magazine (later and I believe still is BBC Wildlife magazine) regarding the use of chimpanzees as photo props on the beaches of Spain; I wrote to the King of Spain to protest. Thankfully its a practice now largely stopped on the European side of the Med but visit Marrakesh and you will still find baby monkeys, for the adults are too vicious and bite, being offered to tourists as photo props.

I would have included a photograph but in order to do so I would similarly have had to pay for the privilege. That’s just a bit too contrary for me but Marrakesh is still I would aver a great place for a short stay. The Jemaa el-Fnaa whilst expensive compared to the rest of Morocco is still one of the best Al Fresco eating experiences and the cheapest place for a freshly squeezed orange juice that I know. Whilst there are too many ‘monkey’s’ and snake charmers there for my liking there are other entertainers and street acts who don’t engage in animal cruelty and you can similarly explore the city by horse and carriage or on an electric bike. One thing to bear in mind is that within the souk they don’t like photographs. It’s also worth mentioning that the quality and price of the goods is inferior to just about everywhere else in Morocco.

Morocco is one of if not the ‘greenest’ country in Africa which is the theme of this post and in particular the CSP (Concentrated Solar Power) plant that has been built at Ouarzazate in the Sahara Desert. Lying 200km South East of Marrakesh it takes just over 4 hours by bus. The literal translation of Ouarzazate from Berber into English is ‘No Noise’ and it is a deafly quite place, but like all desert towns incredibly charming with colourful buildings, people and a rather weird museum of cinema (Ouarzazate being a location for the filming of all your favourite biblical classics).

Ouarzazate is equally beautiful at night, with coloured wall lights on the road to the Kasbah and in it’s shadow fountains of light on roundabouts.

My visit back in July 2019 had been though to make a video of Noor III, the Worlds largest CSP as an entry for Nikon’s video contest as promoted on Jared Polins video channel. All three prizes were excellent and given that the competition required using a Z6 or Z7 to make the video, entries were going to be low. Coming down the mountain from ChefChouen (which is where I hide out in Morocco) I first travelled to Marrakesh and then onto Ouarzazate. Once I arrived I thought it best to read the full terms and conditions of the competition: only to learn that it was not only restricted in terms of equipment but also in terms or residency: I needed to be a resident of the United States to be eligible. Shit!… That wasn’t going to deter me though, I had come to make a video and a video I was going to make! So here it is.

It isn’t though the first video I have made about this technology. In 2005 I visited Mount Abu on the Rajasthan Gujarat boarder where the Brahma Kumaris, a bit like but a bit more hard core than Hari Krishna devotees (what Jesuits are to Catholics basically) hang out. However they do run a free hospital and it has a large solar cooker that creates steam that is used to cook the hospital food. Water and steam though isn’t the best medium as it creates all sort’s of pressure problems and can thus explode. But oil might be a better choice with the heat transferred to a sink. It could then drive a conventional steam turbine.

At the time I had never heard of CSP’s but had heard of Solar ‘up-draft’ systems where air is heated under a large area of plastic and directed towards a central chimney where it drives a turbine. Like a static tornado or cyclone but with the same problems associated with photo voltaics: it doesn’t work in the dark. Three years later (2009) I uploaded this animated video. Although I came to it independently, it wasn’t my idea, others had been here before (I think the credit actually belongs to Archimedes and his death ray): still though a feather in my cap even if (as with all feathers) it came from another creature.

There is though no reason why a network of small CSP’s couldn’t be built. I don’t have the billions of $ needed to construct a solar village network and can’t see that ever changing however the tech could be scaled down and a small steam turbine, one capable of producing up to 50,000 watts (enough for 20 homes) could be built. It is something I hope to explore in the not too distant future.

If however we go the other way (further into the realms of fantasy) and couple CSP’s with Solar desalination then it would be possible to replant the Canaria forest that once stood on the western shores of current day Moroccan Sahara (formally Spanish Sahara and more controversially Western Sahara). A stretch of empty desert the size of Texas that was once, and could again be a great conifer forest. I will in time write a post on the concept but for now there is already one on phasm from four years ago: The Mauritania forest Road.

2 Replies to “Concentrating my Energies”

    1. Thanks Sharon. These are actually reduced images. The full size ones are six times larger but would take forever to load and similarly would use up my server storage space. As soon as I get around to it I will be loading up some portrait pics, hopefully this month (February) some of which include you! I will also do the Annapurna trek this month and will hopefully get some stunning pictures of Nepal’s mountains.

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