The largest solar plant ever built in a refugee camp went live in Jordan, providing clean and much-needed additional power to 80,000 Syrian refugees living in Jordan’s Za’atari camp.
The PV plant with an installed capacity of 12.9 MWp was built by Belectric Gulf, a joint venture of Algihaz Holding and Belectric Solar & Battery GmbH, on behalf of the Jordanian and German governments which has funded the plant through the KfW Development Bank.
Electricity provides an essential lifeline for the camp residents, from lighting shelters to preserving food and maintaining hygiene. Because of the high cost of powering the Za’atari camp electricity use was rationed previously.
The new solar plant will increase the electricity supply to refugees’ homes from eight hours a day up to 14 hours. In addition the solar plant will deliver high annual cost savings. UNHCR – the UN Refugee Agency – calculates with savings of around US$5.5 million, which they plan to reinvest in vital humanitarian assistance.
“We’re more than proud that we could contribute making the difficult lives of so many refugees in the Jordanian desert a little bit easier”, Martin Zembsch, CCO Belectric Solar & Battery GmbH, explains.
“This is the first PV plant we have constructed for a refugee camp but not the last one. Just some days ago BELECTRIC was awarded to build an additional 46 MW PV plant near to Amman, which will provide power to different refugee camps in Jordan.”
The PV plant on the outskirts of the UN camp Za’atari consists of 40,000 photovoltaic panels arranged in rows hundreds of meters long covering an area roughly the size of 33 soccer fields. The electricity generated by the new plant will be used to power refugees’ shelters, ensuring that residents are the prime beneficiaries.
However, the solar plant is connected to Jordan’s national grid, meaning any unused power is fed back into the network to support the energy needs of the local community and help the country meet its renewable energy goals.
In addition the project provided employment to workers from the local Jordanian community, as well as 75 Syrian refugees living in the camp under an existing cash-for-work scheme. Many of them will stay on to manage the power station together with Belectric employees.