Thursday, December 20, 2007
Meeting with Iraqi Minister of Electricity
A few days ago, I met with the Iraqi Minister of Electricity, Karim Wahid (pictured far right), about the "Solar Cells for Peace" project. I had told a friend of mine at State Department about our solar cell project the day before and she mentioned the Minister happened to be in Washington on a trip. So, through my Iraqi contacts in Washington, I was able to arrange a meeting with him to tell him about the idea.
A fascinating guy, Mr. Wahid, is an electrical engineer by education and trade, having worked at the Ministry since 1975. He described the changes that have been made in the Ministry since Saddam's time, especially the increase in strategic planning and the focus on training for the Ministry's staff in all areas. Since becoming the Minister last year, Mr. Wahid said he has put together a ten-year strategic plan that will get Iraq fully powered in that time. He was in the US to urge American companies to aid Iraq by bidding on the plethora of projects, contracts, etc. they need implemented. He said they have the money and the plan; they just need the expertise and the muscle to do them.
I asked him all about the Ministry's plans for "going green", ideas for alternative technologies, and our Solar Cells for Peace idea. He recounted that they wanted to power a large portion of streetlights in Iraq using solar means, but that individual homes were too expensive. I showed him our figures that are based on a thorough and interesting study done by the Naval Postgraduate School estimated about $9,000 per home. (see Naval report: OPERATION SOLAR EAGLE: A Study Examining Photovoltaic (PV) Solar Power as an Alternative for the Rebuilding of the Iraqi Electrical Power Generation Infrastructure)
In any case, I didn't get any immediate promises for funding, but I was heartened to see that the Ministry is looking at solar options for some functions and that he was at least open to meeting with me and promised to review the ideas. We'll see...!
Happy holidays to all. I've just arrived to beautiful Northern California, but I'm thinking of the Holy Land, especially Bethlehem in the Palestinian Territories, where I was last year near this time. How important to think of "on earth peace, good will toward men," for ALL peoples and places.