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Gazan lighting-up neighborhood with used car batteries
By REUTERS
03/19/2014
Hassan Saad converts old batteries to LED lights, providing free, basic electricity for some 50 homes facing blackouts.
 


A resident of Gaza's al-Shajaiya neighborhood is collecting old batteries and using them to create enough energy to light-up homes in the area he lives in using Light Emitting Diode (LED) technology.

LED's can be described as small light bulbs in an electrical circuit and can be used to light up watches, or when used in a large quantity, traffic lights.

Gaza faces power shortages for many reasons - its power plant is intermittently operational. In addition, Egyptian security forces have closed tunnels that brought cheap fuel to Gaza since the ouster of former President Mohammed Morsi.

Forty-five year old Gazan Hassan Saad claims to have found a solution to light-up around 50 homes and the street where he lives with LED lights.

"This project supplies free light for this neighborhood. I provide the light for eight hours when the electricity is shut down," Saad said who also works as a lawyer, but has a technical background too.

Saad fills the used batteries with liquid acid, which he says makes them last longer. He said his system only provides electricity for basic use, but not enough to operate electronic machines.

"The goal of this project is to avoid the noisy sound of the generators and the pollution they produce as well as expensive fuel. LED lights work on used batteries and provide a stronger light source than candles," he said.

Residents in the neighborhood are happy, not only because they have light during times of darkness, but also because they're saving money.

"This is a cheap light source. We used to spend two shekels (US 0.5 dollar) per day on candles to light the house. Now residents in the neighborhood save around 60 shekels (US 20 dollars) per month," said Abu Mohamed Silmy.

Student Ali al-Ankar said the LED system is enabling him to do his homework in the evenings.

"I go home from school at dusk and there is typically no electricity, so he (Hassan Saad) turns on the LED lights for us so we can study, thank God," said the youngster.

On Saturday the Gaza Strip's sole power station stopped generating electricity, causing blackouts throughout the territory after it ran out of fuel, officials said.

The plant started up again on Monday after Israel allowed quantities of Qatari-paid fuel into the enclave to ease a power crisis, Palestinian officials said.

The power plant is one of the main sources of electricity for Gaza's 1.8 million people and without it, daily blackouts of around 12 hours are expected. Electricity is also received directly from Israel and Egypt.

Gaza lacks much basic civil infrastructure and lives under an Egyptian-Israeli blockade meant to cut off arms flows, which also curbs imports of fuel and building supplies.

A few months ago the plant was switched off for 43 days due to a fuel shortage that arose after neighboring Egypt closed off smuggling tunnels. Israel allowed in fuel paid for by Qatar when a storm swept the region.

But that fuel has run out, said Ahmed Abu al-Amrain, a spokesman Gaza's energy authority.
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