West Cape News (Cape Town)

15 May 2012

South Africa: Rastaman Powers Home With Wind, Solar Energy

Unlike most of us, Ricardo Fortune does not have to worry about high electricity bills.

His home is powered by wind energy in winter and by solar power during summer.

Fortune, a father of three, is part of a Rastafarian community who have chosen to live on the mountainside behind Ocean View in the southern peninsula.

The Rasta philosophy is to live in peace with nature, which is why they collect their water from mountain streams and don't connect to the Eskom grid.

But, Fortune, who is an electrician, said the lack of electricity prompted him to install a wind turbine on his backyard to use the strong Cape winds to generate energy for his home, which is one of dozens of shacks and timber homes the community has built on land granted to them by the City.

During summer, he harnesses the sunlight for energy.

The wind and sun allowed him to generate electricity which he stores in a bank of batteries and uses for lighting and to run a television and laptop.

Asked if he could use the wind power for cooking, he said it was possible, but appliances such as an electric stove and a refrigerator drained a lot of power.

Instead, he said he used a gas stove for cooking.

He said he learnt the skills necessary to set up the system by working for companies that install solar panels and wind turbines in homes where he was responsible for ensuring the proper wiring of the systems.

Although the community of Rastafarians with whom he lived were poor in economic terms, he said their life on the mountain was rich in that they lived in peace and in harmony with nature.

Many of the community members, who work as herbalists or get piece work, shun manufactured clothing and wear sack cloth and walk barefoot all year round.

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