In the Sahara desert, where the sunshine is intense and present all through the year, there is a huge potential for production of cleaner energy by solar panels. Montreal resident Atigh Ould wanted to explore the potential of this clean energy source, while helping the local nomad communities around his home village of Ividjaren, Mauritania. This February, as a part of the 2012 Mauritania Nomad Festival, Atigh brought solar panels from the Montreal-based energy company MSM Electric. The company exports new energy solutions to more than 60 countries, and has an office in Mauritania’s capital Nouakchott. Atigh and the MSM Electric president, Mohamadou Maguiraga, installed the solar panels together with a team of engineers and nomads from the surrounding area. The system includes eight solar panels connected to a water pump near the bottom of the well, 60 meters below the ground. Powered by the solar panels, the pump can transport water seventy meters upwards, so it reaches a nearby water tower. In the past, water had been pumped from the well using a diesel-powered pump, creating both noise, fumes and expenses. The new solar-powered pump works without any noise, so that you don’t notice it is operating, Atigh explains. – We were sitting around the well, when the engineer suddenly switched on the water pump. Just from being in the sun for some time during the installation, the solar panels had charged enough to power the water pump. The water started flowing from the well, and everyone started playing with the water, singing and celebrating, he recounts. The well can provide 25 tons of water every day, many times double the old capacity. Recent reports from the village of Ividjaren say the nomads are very happy with the solar panels. They bring their goats, cows and camels to the well so they can drink at no charge. The water is also being used to water an organic vegetable garden, growing tomatoes, melons and mint rightout of the sand. The solar well is attracting new people and animals, and the community around Ividjaren is thriving.