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 Generating Halal Power: Harness the Hidden Power of the Elements

Generating Halal Power: Harness the Hidden Power of the Elements

Issue 6 Jun / Jul 2004

First Published on July/August 2004

To access the issue page, click here  


Words Sri Raharti Hadiningrum

Photograph Taus Makhacheva

Our dependence on fossil fuels has more than international political implications. The ominous effects on the environment are a threat to global safety. As we continue to use up fossil fuels,the carbon dioxide emissions create an insulating blanket round the earth. Heat, which would normally disappear into space, cannot escape and is reflected back to the earth. This is the same effect as a greenhouse – hence the term the ‘greenhouse effect’. As a result the world becomes hotter every year, melting polar ice caps, increasing sea levels,and threatening low coastal countries like Bangladesh.

The new movement to ‘go green’ is now desperately important. Research is being done to ‘save’ the planet, trying to find alternatives to fossil fuels by making electricity using renewable sourcessuch as sun, wave, tidal, wind, hydro, bio fuels, and biomass.

Wind is an abundant source of power, and theUK is the windiest country in Europe. At a goodwindy site, a wind generator provides an effective means of generating electricity, and wind is alreadyproviding 2 percent of Britain’s power. Despite some protest from Country Guardian – an opposing lobby group, the government has promised toincrease this to 10 per cent by 2010. However, the UK is lagging behind other European countries- Denmark generates 20% of its power by wind which will soon increase to 25%.

Until recently it has been difficult to generate your own electricity using renewable energy, but there may now be an opening in the market. Small wind turbines are now available for purchase and increasing demand has resulted in a reduction in price. This is good news for the future of home generation of power.

One individual taking advantage of these developments is Yakoub Purches. After visitingthe Centre of Alternative Technology (CAT)in Machynlleth, Wales, two years ago, Yakoub, of Worthing in West Sussex, started to experiment in renewable energy to generate his own electricity.“Wind and sun energy is directly from Allah. Itdoes not create pollution and is unlimited in supply unlike oil or coal.”

After much research he imported a small windturbine from America. For wind power to be effectively generated, it must be mounted on a pole thatis above the roof of the house, or better still in a large garden or field away from trees and buildings. He has problem in his house common to many, “Mywife and I live in a typical Victorian terrace house with a very small back yard and a side alley next tothe house.” Undeterred, his first attempt was tobuy a simple American design called a ‘wasp’ that claimed a 500-watt output, and erect it on a 30-foot scaffold pipe. The erection of the pole was very hard work and involved building a scaffold tower that was as high as the pole so that he could lift thewind turbine onto the pole and wire it up. He didall this last year in the terrific heat of August with no wind, “It took me a few hours to overcome mynew found fear of heights,” said Yakoub.

When Yakoub had everything in readiness, he spent the next six months logging the power outputof the turbine. He was not too impressed with theresults especially in everyday winds. More research allowed him to discover what was wrong - the turbine was never going to make much power because it wasn’t big enough. Nor was it high enough. A lot of thought and some web searches later he found the answer in a second hand telescopic lattice mast bought from eBay.

The new design involved digging a big hole in the yard to lay a concrete foundation to anchor the mast. This mast is designed to tilt down, so that the turbine can be attached to the top of the mast at ground level. Yakoub had to shift about two tons of clay and soil which was speeded up bya visit from a friend of his. Sheikh Imam Abbas from South Africa, who was there to talk at an ‘Islamic Awareness Night’ organised by Yakoub and Worthing Mosque, had experience at digging graves and made light work of the job. After welding steel sections to the large foundation bolts andmixing the concrete the foundation was completed and the mast put into place.

It was some time before Yakoub located a new windmill design which was much bigger and heavierthan his first design. This machine was sent tohim on a trial basis. He was impressed by its size,and although it had a rated capacity of 300 watts,which was lower than the ‘wasp’, it had a rotor wing area that was 2.4 times as great, ensuring better wind capture. Once the new wind turbine was lifted above the roofline, “it started making five times as much power as the last unit!” he enthuses.

Yakoub was impressed and has since been using the unit to give power supplement to the house. By working closely with the manufacturer he has made modifications to the design and has come up with a range of turbines from 200 watts to 2000 watts. With his brother Joseph he started up a small business called ‘’to market the products and help others to set uptheir own renewable energy solutions. “It is amazing how many households in this country are faraway from grid power,” says Yakoub. It is often too expensive to get the power companies to get them connected. One householder in Wales said thepower company wants £16,000 to connect themto electricity! So he has gone the solo route and installed wind power and solar panels, and is now self-sufficient.

Yakoub’s business is now successfully selling a number of wind turbines, mainly in 500-wattcapacities to different clients. “We feel that Allahhas given the gift of free energy for us to use,” said Yakoub who became a Muslim three years ago. “It is not good enough to assume that oil is there forus to squander. We are all too greedy for energy– Western nations consume 70% of the world’s resources even though we represent only 30% of the world’s population. As Muslims we should set good examples and at the same time find ways of creating business in this exciting new technology,”says Yakoub. With his enthusiasm and practical application of ideals it is easy to see that he will lead the way.



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