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Could Iraqi Generator Men Be Solar Men?

iraqAwhile back, one of our readers sent along this story on Iraqi “generator men.” The idea the reader mentioned was that these people could be providing electricity more cleanly with the use of solar power.

Before getting to that, we have to summarize the backstory. Basically, there are a lot of people without reliable power in Iraq. Despite being rich with oil, many of the country’s residents don’t know if they’re going to have electricity or not from day to day. “Generator Men” fill that need a bit while benefiting financially by bringing their generators from home to home and business to business and charging for their use.

As Al Jazeera notes, there’s a lot of business, too much. “Hadi is a ‘Generator Man’, who owns two generators but finds that being on call for hundreds of people, all desperate for power, means that his life is no longer his own.”

Of course, it’s no easier on those without electricity.

In the summer of 2010, I spent two months filming in Iraq.

It was during that summer that I first met Bakr, a 12-year-old boy from Sadr City; a child carrying the soul of an adult.

He told me about the death of his brother, a victim of an American apache, as though it was something that could not have been avoided; an almost inevitable part of his destiny as an Iraqi.

And, when asked about his dreams, Bakr revealed that he had just one: to have electricity so that he might have a fan to keep him cool in summer and a heater to keep him warm in winter.

… And for the first time I understood why I had met so many people wearily climbing the stairs of Baghdad’s general hospital with their sick children in their arms, trying to reach a doctor on a higher floor: without electricity, elevators do not work.

Despite nearly $2 billion a week in oil revenue, many in Iraq don’t have the basic amenity of reliable electricity. I’m sure the reasons why are a bit complicated.

“On Tuesday, June 22, 2004, forty pallets of cash were loaded onto a truck that delivered the money to Andrews Air Force Base, near Washington, D.C. The money was then transferred to a C-130 transport plane. The next day, it arrived in Baghdad. That was the largest shipment of currency in one single day in the history of the NY Fed. But it was not the first shipment of money to Baghdad. For more than a year, $12bn taken from Iraqi oil revenues – in other words, belonging to the Iraqi people – was delivered for use in reconstruction. At least $9bn has gone missing.”

But, anyway, back to the electricity: relying on generators using expensive fossil fuel keeps the disadvantaged masses dependent on a less-than-satisfactory system. Imagine if these generator men were distributing solar panels instead of temporary electricity support, even if it was in the form of the popular “pay-as-you-go-until-you-pay-it-off” model that is used around Africa and Asia. Imagine if these generator men were helping to solarize their country. Imagine if the masses of Iraq could take advantage of a clean resource with which they are blessed — sunshine.

A big solar PV manufacturing facility may be developed in Saudi Arabia, the government of Saudi Arabia will be launching 700-1000 MW worth of project tender before the end of 2014, and aims to have 33% of its electricity coming from solar power by 2032. Maybe its neighbor will pick up the solar bug and try to follow suit in some way. That’s certainly more hopeful than realistic, but on never knows.

Iraq-related stories published on CleanTechnica:

Cost of War… Spent on Solar Power Instead

For Price Of Iraq War, US Could Power Half Country With Renewables

Like The Iraq War, Media Fails To Report On Climate Change Accurately

Where Do We Get Our Oil?

Image: An aerial photograph of the suburbs of Baghdad, showing the many satelite dishes via Shutterstock

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Written By

Zach is tryin' to help society help itself one word at a time. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director, chief editor, and CEO. Zach is recognized globally as an electric vehicle, solar energy, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, Canada, and Curaçao. Zach has long-term investments in Tesla [TSLA], NIO [NIO], Xpeng [XPEV], Ford [F], ChargePoint [CHPT], Amazon [AMZN], Piedmont Lithium [PLL], Lithium Americas [LAC], Albemarle Corporation [ALB], Nouveau Monde Graphite [NMGRF], Talon Metals [TLOFF], Arclight Clean Transition Corp [ACTC], and Starbucks [SBUX]. But he does not offer (explicitly or implicitly) investment advice of any sort.


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