Supporting the Water Tap Foundation’s work in Malawi

Delivering AKT Solar Panels for pumping drinking water in Malawi

Delivering AKT Solar Panels for pumping drinking water in Malawi

Here are some pictures of AKT Solar panels being delivered to Malawi to provide the power for pumping fresh water to rural villages.

AKT Solar was able to provide help both with the solar panels and technical assistance on how to use them.

 

 

AKT Solar Sahara Challenge

Between 22 and 30 April, Simon Milward undertook a record breaking attempt to “Solar Cycle” across the Sahara on a bike powered only by the sun (i.e. no pedalling or external power source). This blog contains updates as frequently as we were able to post them.

Simon has been raising money for Oxfam. For more information, or to sponsor Simon in this challenge, visit Just Giving. You can also track Simon’s progress via View Ranger GPS Tracking (updated 29 April 2013). The track starts in Spain but Simon set off on the solar bike in Guelmin in southern Morocco.

Challenge Successfully Completed

Just before entering the border post with Mauritania

Just before entering the border post with Mauritani

The last 60 kilometres wound up and down over small sandstone mountains of up to about 30 metres high but nothing really taxed the bike and I arrived at the border after about 3 hours.

Unfortunately filming’s not allowed close to the crossing so the only pictures and video I have are from relatively far away. After the picture below was taken I went inside the crossing to see if they would let me through to Mauritania but they explained that following the problems in Northern Mali, Mauritania no longer gives visas at the border and the Moroccan side has an agreement not to let anyone without a visa into the 4km of no man’s land between the two countries.

The head gendarme was fascinated by my solar bike but even after a demonstration he still wouldn’t let me through. So I turned round and began the long journey back.

Explaining how the bike works to OFPPT Students in Laayoune

Explaining how the bike works to OFPPT Students in Laayoune

On the way back I stopped in Laayoune – the largest town in the Western Sahara – and dropped into the the OFPPT technical college as one of their professors had invited me to visit when he’d passed me on the road in his car about a week previously.

The students were very enthusiastic and after discussions with the college director, we’re going to try to set up some e-learning modules between AKT and the OFPPT so that their students can get more information from us about how to build and use small-scale solar applications.

OK, that’s it for the moment. We’ll try to produce a video and some more information about the challenge soon. Thanks a lot to those who have already donated to Oxfam and if anyone else would like to donate please just go to: http://www.justgiving.com/Simon-Milward

Also, if you’d like any further information please feel free to write directly to: contact@aktsolar.co.uk

Cheers, Simon

Nearly there…

It’s been really desolate for the last few hundred kilometres with almost no buildings and hardly any trucks passing by.

Sahara Day 8

The wind has also picked up and it often blows sand across the road and into my face. Fortunately for the most part it’s been behind me but a few times when the wind’s been at right angles it’s been quite dangerous as I’ve had to lean into it and the gusts have sometimes blown me nearly half way across the road. I’m glad there’s so little traffic now.

 

 

Tropic of CancerIt was my birthday yesterday and it was marked by two memorable events: I passed the tropic of cancer and I also passed the 1000km mark. By the end of today I’d done over 1200km and now have just 50 or so more to go (with possibly a few sand dunes in between) before I get to the Mauritanian border. I’m thinking of changing my shirt tonight in order to look smart for the final photos – although maybe that’s tempting fate!

Now a bit over half way!

It’s been a good couple of days. Despite some strong headwinds, the bike still did over 100 km yesterday and today, with straight flat roads, I covered nearly 180 km.

Sand, sand and more sand

Sand, sand and more sand

 

The landscape has changed markedly and is now more lonely than ever. When we first reached the coast two days ago we quite often saw small isolated fishermen’s houses. But today, apart from a couple of ship wrecks and some mobile phone base stations, we saw nothing for over 100 km. Also it’s becoming uncomfortably hot during the day, despite the slight breeze and the shade from the panel.

 

Ship wreck off Cape Buojador

Ship wreck off Cape Boujador

And some of my equipment’s feeling the strain. I had a problem with the throttle on the bike today and there’s some metal fatigue where the posts holding up the panel join the bike. Also, very unfortunately, the charging socket on my gopro camera that was taking timelapse photography of the whole trip has broken so I can’t use it any more. But on the positive side, both the panel and motor are still working perfectly which means that during the middle hours of the day, with the sun almost directly overhead, I’m still able to go at 25-30 kmph.

 

 

All in all we’ve now covered 740 km which is a bit over half way. Hopefully we’ll reach the Mauritanian border around the middle of next week.

The novelty’s starting to wear a bit thin

I spent the first two hours of this morning crouched over as I was going into a headwind. I still only averaged about 7 kmph.

Then the camels and the sand dunes, which were all very interesting to start with, are starting to all look a bit the same.

And my shoulders are aching from being crouched for 2 hours – and my lower body was already aching as the saddle’s not to comfortable and if I stand up to lift my weight off it I can’t straighten my legs without having to bend the rest of my body over. Also the tip of my ring finger on my right hand is still numb from the first day when I was holding the throttle back all the time (now I have it tied open though).

Still, looking on the positive side, the wind fortunately turned at about midday and my route also shifted a bit so the wind was then behind me and with clear blue skies I managed to average about 25 kmph for over 3 hours and during that time crossed over from Morocco into the Western Sahara. In total I did about 160 km and so the day ended well.

Hopefully my body is starting to get used to this and I’ll find the going easier tomorrow…

In Morocco, but haven’t been able to change money.

"I have got my passport back!"

“I have got my passport back!”

We have just done 140km on the toll road, and they don’t take cards. So they took our passports and we went in search of cash. I’m knackered. We haven’t stopped driving except on the ferries. But it’s my turn to sleep now and we should be at the start in 10 hours. Woo hoo!

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