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Camel Power Meets Solar Power in Africa

Nomadic Communities Trust is using camels to transport portable solar power systems.Camels have been getting a bad rap recently, at least in Australia where they’ve become such a destructive invasive species and the government has called in airstrikes against them.  But in Kenya an organization called Nomadic Communities Trust has found a new sustainable solar cargo for the ships of the desert.


In partnership with Princeton University and The Art College of Design in California, the Nomadic Communities Trust has come up with a portable solar-powered refrigeration system that can be carried by camel to remote populations.  The system was designed to refrigerate vaccines and other medicines in areas that are not connected to a grid.

Camel, Meet Solar

According to writer Jace Shoemaker-Galloway, the refrigeration system will consist of portable solar panels that can fold for easier transportation, along with a foot-powered backup system.  A high-tech ergonomic aluminum frame will substitute for traditional sisal ropes, in order to prevent chafing and other discomfort to the camel.  The equipment has been field-tested on camels at the Bronx Zoo and once funding is in place, Nomadic Communities Trust hopes to bring it to Kenya.

Big Solar, Little Solar

Utility-scale solar projects are fast becoming the norm, but it’s also important to remember that small-scale, portable solar can make a huge difference in areas of the world that are not grid-connected now, and will not be for many years into the future.

Image: Camel by ST33VO on

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Tina specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Views expressed are her own. Follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Spoutible.


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