1 MW off-grid PV system goes online in Afghanistan

One of the world’s biggest off-grid PV systems has begun operation in Afghanistan’s Bamyan Province, whose name means "the place of shining light."

The 1 MW solar installation is providing electricity to 2,500 homes, businesses and government buildings in the province.

Financed by two New Zealand companies, Sustainable Energy Services International (SESI) and NETcon International Limited, the Bamyan Renewable Energy Programme has brought for the first time an electrical system to the communities that provides homes, businesses and government buildings with cost-efficient electricity 24 hours a day. The PV generator of the system is supplemented with a diesel generator and batteries for periods of poor weather.

Until now, residents in the area — located in central Afghanistan and famous for the giant Buddha statues destroyed by the Taliban in 2001 — have had to either rely on diesel generators or domestic solar panels for power while others have had no access to electricity at all.

"The project is not just about solar panels, wires and poles – but also about health, education, economic growth and laying down a foundation for future development to build on," says Tony Woods of SESI.

Germany’s SMA Solar Technology delivered 118 Sunny Island inverters, 55 Sunny Tripower inverters, four Multicluster boxes and 79 Sunny Island Chargers to the Afghanistan project.

"To effectively improve the lives of the people in the war-stricken country of Afghanistan, it is extremely important to bring a reliable energy supply not only to homes, but also to businesses, hospitals, schools and government buildings," added Volker Wachenfeld, SMA’s senior vice president of Hybrid & Storage. "Photovoltaics is the quickest, most sustainable and cost-effective energy source to achieve this even under harshest conditions."