RE: Solar Energy, African Society, and the Gospel of Jesus Christ

Vandergraaf, Chuck (
Tue, 21 Apr 1998 00:50:30 -0400


Out of curiosity, I read the article on the Internet. Although I rejoice in
reading about novel ways in which the Gospel can be spread and massive
urbanization can be discouraged, I wonder about the comparison with more
traditional methods of electricity production and the long-term viability
of these solar powered systems.

The article mentions 1000$ US per installation and contrasts it with
"...plans for construction of large centralized power plants with
transmission lines linking urban centers...that involve[s] large initial
capital outlay with the attending long term debt."

Each solar unit, we are told, can provide enough electricity to power "four
fluorescent lights and a light appliance (TV, Telephone, etc.)." David, do
you know what the output of these systems is? The article didn't say or I
couldn't find this information.

Providing electricity for "four fluorescent lights" seems to me a rather
unusual way to use solar power. If the sun is shining, why use fluorescent
lights? Perhaps the units come with batteries? If so, how long will the
batteries last and how often can they be recharged? If there are no
batteries, what will the user use at night?

Has anybody looked into the long-term performance of the solar panels? If
so, what is their life expectancy?

I don't know much about the climate in Uganda or the vegetation, but
presumably there must be rainy seasons and there must be places where there
are enough trees to block the sun. Will these solar cells operate, albeit at
reduced output?

The comparison with the costs of a centralized power plant also makes me
suspicious. How would the costs of a centralized power plant compare with X
solar units with a combined output equal to that of the centralized power
plant and distribution system? Are individual solar units really cheaper or
is this just wishful thinking?

Chuck Vandergraaf
Pinawa, MB

> ----------
> Sent: Monday, April 20, 1998 10:07 PM
> To:
> Cc:;
> Subject: Solar Energy, African Society, and the Gospel of Jesus
> Christ
> ASAers,
> Last week I posted a message to this LISTSERV about a project to provide
> cheap
> solar power to rural areas of Uganda.
> A more complete description of this project can now be found on the
> Internet
> at
> This is a good example of how science and faith are working together to
> serve
> Jesus in our mission in the world.
> David Bailey