Solar power’s ability to consistently reach the world’s neediest and most vulnerable people has been put on display once again this week after Jordan switched on a 12.9 MW PV plant located at its Zaatari refugee camp.
The array is the largest such facility in the world, and will deliver electricity to an estimate 80,000 Syrian refugees camped near to the border between the two nations. The power generated at the site will predominantly power lights, heaters, shelters, refrigerators, TVs and power outlets for phones and other devices, confirmed the UNHCR.
The solar farm cost €17.5 million to build and was funded by the German government. Its 40,000 solar panels can provide 14 hours of energy a day and will help to lower the UNHCR’s annual overheads by as much as $5.5 million – money that can then be steered back into further refugee support.
Syrian refugee Anwar Hussein told Reuters that electricity is vitally important for the people of the camp, and is a commodity that is often overlooked. “When we have electricity during the day, our children can stay home, they don’t go out in this weather and play in the dust and mud,” he said.
Earlier this year Jordan switched on its first refugee camp solar plant – a 2 MW array located at the Azraq camp – and PV has also been utilized to power displaced communities in Kenya at the Dadaab refugee camp.
While the six-year-long conflict in Syria appears to be entering its final act, it is unlikely that the hundreds of thousands of refugees camped across the borders in Jordan, Turkey and Iraq will be able to safely return home any time soon, meaning more opportunities to develop solar plants in such camps could be on the cards.