Solar energy to bring power to Syrian refugees in JordanDecember 17, 2015
The Azraq Syrian refugee camp in Jordan will soon be home to a solar farm.
Next year, a solar energy farm, made possible by the Brighter Lives for Refugees campaign, will change the lives of Syrian refugees living in the Azraq camp, for the better. The desert camp in Northern Jordan, which is currently home to an estimated 28,000 Syrian refugees, and has the capacity for nearly double that amount, does not have electricity, which makes it difficult for children to learn, for residents to collect water, for families to cook, for people to go to the toilet, and it puts camp residents, particularly women, in danger.
Solar lanterns and solar street lights are already making a difference.
The Brighter Lives for Refugees campaign is a joint project between the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and Ikea. The aim of the campaign is to bring solar power to refugees around the world. So far, donations have enabled the campaign to provide small solar lanterns to families. These lanterns have enabled children to study after dark, as well as helped refugees continue activities when the sun goes down that can help them generate income, such as buying and selling goods, running business and cooperatives and providing technical services.
Solar street lights have also been installed, which helps to make it possible for social gatherings after the sun sets. That being said, it is the third phase of the campaign that will bring the camp the light it desperately needs.
The building of a 6 MW grid-connected solar energy farm will start next year.
Mustakbal, a Jordanian solar company, will be in charge of the project’s construction, and was selected from 25 bidders. Refugees will be employed to assist in the building of the solar array and the first 2 MW (megawatts) is expected to be operational by mid 2016.
Aside from light, the solar project will also give residents the power to charge their cell phones, which is usually the only way they can remain in contact with their family and friends. Furthermore, cell phones are also vitally important for UN representatives who operate in crisis zones.
According to a news report from Greentech Media, Anne-Marie Grey, CEO and executive director of USA for UNHCR, said in an interview that “Light is absolutely essential.” Grey added that “When you go into a camp, you realize how it’s a safety issues as much as a right to light or a right to energy issue.”
The Azraq solar energy farm is being fully funded by Ikea through the Brighter Lives for Refugees campaign. Ikea will make a $1 donation to the refugee initiative for every light bulb or lamp purchased from its stores between November 29 and December 19.