Solar Power isn't Feasible!

Solar Power isn't Feasible!
This cartoon was on the cover of the book "SolarGas" by David Hoye. It echoes the Sharp Solar slogan "Last time I checked nobody owned the sun!"

What is Solar CITIES and how can you help?

About us: 
  Founded in 2006,  Solar Cities is a nonprofit organization that works on capacity building in developing countries through an industrial ecology approach to sustainable developlement.  Through  green collar education, gender equity empowerment  and poverty alleviation we help families develop sensibly scaled technologies for creating affordable enivonmental solutions at the household level.

Solar C3ITIES e.V. is a not-for-profit organization based in Germany. We work all over the world, particularly Africa and the Middle East, developing home-scale sustainable development solutions with, by, and for families and communities.

Our current focus is on providing low-cost high-efficiency biogas systems and system integration training for "food-waste-to-fuel-and-fertilizer" biodigesters at the household and community level.  We incorporate in-sink food waste grinders like the "Insinkerator" brand garbage disposal into our biogas systems as the "jaws and teeth" of our "artificial sacred cow" biodigester. 

To Provide low income families, both nationally and globally, with safe, clean, climate friendly, hot water, sanitation, light and microenterprise opportunities. 

Who are We:
Founders; Executive Director;Dr. T.H. Culhane, Dr. Sybille Culhane
Ahmed Khalifa: Secretary/Treasure, 
Moustafa Hussein, Hanna Fathy, Heidi Fink, Hussein Farag, Joram Samoan, Mike Rimoin:  Solar CITIES Innoventors and Practioners  

Current Projects:
Soylent Green is People, but Food Scraps are Solar Energy!
We build biodigestors because we see proper utilization of  kitchen and toilet wastes as the best way to bring solar energy to the city!

It is our contention that  food wastes, whether in the form of high energy  raw table scraps and plate scrapings, or processed through an animal gut, are the most cost effective and reliable form of stored solar energy. Unlike fossil fuels, which are also stored sunlight, food waste is climate neutral and, when turned into methane and fertilizer through a biodigester, produces no harmful toxins or pathogens and can no longer provide sustenance to mammal, bird or insect vectors of disease. Unlike direct sunlight, or other forms of transformed solar energy like wind power and hydro power, food wastes are available come rain or come shine, night and day, 365 days a year.  And since so much of the world's stored solar energy is accumulated in our cities as uneaten plant and animal parts, left-over and thrown out food scraps and human and animal manures, we believe that any true "Solar CITIES" will transform these substances, now considered liabilities dumped into landfills or  discharged into rivers lakes and oceans, into the primary sources of fuel and fertilizer.  A real solar city would exhaust all of its organic wastes first before turning to other forms of sunlight, and would save fossil fuels, which are ancient solar capital reserves useful for investing in big infrastructure projects, for last. 

It is for this reason that our top priority is helping everybody on earth first make use of their stored solar energy by teaching them how to grind food wastes and tranform them into clean burning biogas for cooking, heating, lighting, refrigeration and electricity generation  and nutrient rich soil for growing healthy food and fighting desertification and deforestation.
By tapping into the spirit of community cooperation and extending it to a global scale, experiments in more sustainable living can be run on a huge scale at a very low cost and in a way that invites community and stake-holder participation. By using only off-the-shelf, locally purchased or manufactured, recycled and ‘found’ materials we strive to give everyone a chance to
take control of their own destiny as they pursue a dignified and comfortable path to fully sustainable

The low costs associated with the Solar CITIES project make it affordable and scalable and appropriate for microfinancing opportunities. We work in a modular „build as you go“ fashion. Each dollar spent adds to the growing capacity of the systems and capacity building in the communities.

For example, when you support solar CITIES, every donation has an important place in the ecology of development:

25 dollars will pay for a local metal worker, welder or plumber to spend a full day helping us build a renewable energy system.
50 dollars will purchase the glass for solar collectors for three families
100 dollars will purchase one of the two tanks needed for a family biogas system
150 dollars will purchase the copper pipes for a family solar hot water system
200 dollars will purchase the aluminum sheeting , paint, insulation and plumbing fittings to build a two panel family solar hot water system
250 dollars will purchase the materials an entire single family biogas system that provides 1 to 2 hours of cooking gas a day
300 dollars will purchase the materials to build a treadle pump so families without electricity can provide themselves with water
350 dollars will hire a local youth worker for a month to assist her community in building renewable energy and waste management systems.
400 dollars will provide an airline ticket to bring a Solar CITIES trained trainer to another African country to train more trainers
450 dollars will purchase the materials for a family biogas system that provides 3 to 4 hours of cooking gas a day (or can run a gas refrigerator for 24 hours).
500 dollars will purchase the materials to build and install a full solar hot water system on a family's roof.
750 dollars will pay the salary of a Solar CITIES expert to spend a week in a new location starting a project.
1000 dollars will purchase an airline ticket to send a Solar CITIES trainer to a new location to start a project.

There is a PAYPAL donate button to the right of this post at the top of the sidebar column. Go ahead and click and show your support today!

Because we TRAIN AS WE BUILD, every activity becomes an educational opportunity. Thus ever donation is directly contributing to re-education and capacity building. Beneficiaries pay for their education through donating extra time and labor to the project by sharing the expertise they acquired in their own home or community to others. This way every dollar stretches beyond the borders of any particular project site.

Vision: To produce a sustaibable asset-based, low income approach to income to poverty reduction through job training and hands on productionto provide capacity building of all the stakeholders involved.

What is the Problem:
Most of the energy and water consumption and waste generation in a household or community occur
in the kitchen and the bathroom.
Kitchens and bathrooms are traditionally female managed domains so most health risks associated
with energy, water and waste are incurred by ‘voiceless’ women and children.
The technologies associated with energy production, water supply and waste disposal are traditionally forprofit male domains that occur outside the household without consideration for the well being of women and children in poor communities.
Solar CITIES brings these domains together by bringing sensibly scaled technologies and design
information for creating household level industrial ecology solutions to families around the world.

Goals and Objectives:
Industrial Ecology Approach toSustainable Development
Asset-based Approach to Poverty Reduction
Stake-holder Participation Approach to Urban Planning
• “Green Collar” Job Training Approach to Education
Gender Equity Approach to Community Empowerment
Collective Intelligence Approach to Problem Solving

Honoring Diversity and Lessons Learned

Solar CITIES works on small infrastructure issues with an expertise in
renewable energy.  Solar CITIES is principally involved with
watergy’ issues that can be solved using appropriate technology.
Solar CITIES trainscommunities to build small biogas, wind and solar systems.
Solar CITIES conducts outreach and education workshops using holistic learning, multimedia and

Started by a husband and wife team while they were living in the slums of historic Cairo, Solar CITIES was conceived as a way of working with collective intelligence at the
household level to solve the daily challenges of securing basic amenities like clean water, hot water, energy, food and hygienic waste management. We take a neighborly ‘barnraising’ approach to solving global issues and making the world a better place

The Solar CITIES approach is to work at the level of the family, building capacity
through building relationships. At Solar CITIES we turn the normal development equation on its head. We choose to think locally -- i.e. we think of how to solve problems in our own homes,
in our own back yards, within our own communities -- with the faith that by coming up with solutions that are good for you, are affordable and can be created at home
using available materials, the best ideas will by themselves diffuse and spread through personal social
networks until they have reached the entire world. The key is to build a network of families and friends and acquaintances that is blind to nations, cultures, races, religions, and borders.

With todays social networking technologies, people now share information without great effort and news travels very fast. Solar CITIES takes advantage of this by working only with people we have gotten to know, and then expanding the network each time, so that we know ever more and ever more different people. Many people talk about the downsides of globalization and urbanization, but Solar CITIES, cofounded by a multicultural couple holding doctorates and specializing in urban planning and education, sees these two trends as potential solution generators

Solar Cities takes advantage of social networking to connect us with likeminded people and people in need that makes our global network expand each day.

Due to the vast migrations of people around the planet, and our interconnectedness through constant travel and telecommunications, awareness of each others needs and mutual problem solving can be vastly accelerated. Multiple perspectives can brought to bear that vastly reduce redundancy and wasted resources through needless trial and error. Through site visits and multimedia internet communications we have been able to bring technologies and ideas from India to Egypt and
from Egypt to California, from Alaska to East Africa and from Central America to South East Asia.

Solar CITIES at work around the World

Quotes from Solar CITIES stakeholders
Mother in the slums of Cairo: „ It used to take me up to 7 hours to bathe my 6 children because of the time it took to fetch and heat the water. We had to boil 20 liters at a time on an open flame and it was dangerous work. Many children in our community get third degree burns and some die each year because of scalds, and houses have burned down, to say nothing of the air pollution using kerosene stoves generated. Now, because I was able to build my own solar hot water system on my roof with Solar CITIES, I have 200 liters of safe, clean hot bath water every day at the turn of a tap. Because the sun never stops shining here, we know we will never run out of hot water, and everybody can bathe whenever they like. The burden is off of me and I can devote more time to studying and learning a trade.“

Young man in the garbage area of Cairo: „Garbage is my life, because I am a recycler. But garbage can be very dangerous – my baby niece was killed by rats that were attracted by the kitchen waste and ended up in her crib instead. Now that we build biogas systems next to our homes and on our roofs, the organic waste all goes into the sealed tank and has no smell. For this reason no rats, dogs, cats, flies or other disease causing or dangerous animals come around anymore. We simply don't have smelly garbage near our house or in our streets anymore. Instead we get all of our cooking gas from our kitchen scraps. So we've turned a terrible problem into a promising solution to clean up our city and improve our health and lives.“


There is a PAYPAL donate button to the right of this post at the top of the sidebar column. Go ahead and click and show your support today! 


Unknown said...

hi thanks for discussing in details various aspects of solar powered devices. i found some good deals on them at

Solar Installers NewYork

MaxThenkilö said...

Hello, Your projects appear much needed, and with possibility as a mere side effect of providing self employment to many, seems considerable and much needed... :)

I am from finnish based, globally active, (semi) NGO, and we have been wondering about the food security and availability of gardenable/farmable permanent soils in egypt...

This is part of what we came up with, utilizing newly rediscovered amd field tested methods of homescale (or farm-scale, or neighborhood-scale...) making of combined biomass energy, biogas production, and pyrolysis methods:

We have been trying to reach anyone interested to spread these freeware methods to Egypt areas for people to consider. Unfortunately it all is in english, and the linked "how to" instructions are in english as well, not arabic... :s

All the methods are freeware... so... there they are.

Max Turunen
(Illustrator, Project Secretary)
Coalition for Environment and Development

Sue said...

would love to promote you more, but without Australian Government Tax Deductibility will be a slog

Krista Hiles said...


I found the services of solar cities very generous. I think very few NGOs are working towards the renewable energy resources. You should seek help from professional power project management services so that you can continue your work with more efficiency by preserving the prestigious resources of mother earth.

Naujamiestis said...

In my opinion the cartoon explains the importance of solar energy usage very well. Sun is free resource and the only task is to use it properly, but in the new age of technology, it shouldn't be a problem. Many cities are installing solar panels step by step and I hope that innovation will continue.