A refugee camp in Jordan is the first in the world powered completely through renewable energy. The transition away from gas and diesel to solar power immediately improves the quality of life for the 36,000 people—most from Syria—who call the Azraq refugee camp home.
The power plant began running last month, immediately providing power for refrigerators, televisions, fans and cell phones to residents who had lived for years with little more than small solar powered lanterns.
The solar project, slated for completion in 2018, saves the United Nation’s refugee agency around $1.5 million a year, which will be spent to improve living conditions. The technology is also offering much needed glints of optimism for a place that needs it, and speaks to the promise that green power could have for those castaway from their homelands by war or famine.
“Lighting up the camp is not only a symbolic achievement; it provides a safer environment for all camp residents, opens up livelihood opportunities, and gives children the chance to study after dark.” says Kelly Clements, director of the UN refugee agency.
The electricity is free to Azraq camp residents.
The solar farm is a consistent well of power for a people who have spent the last two and a half years with only sporadic access to electricity and other basic necessities. It’s an essential action for the Jordan National Energy Strategy, and its goal of a green economy by 2020. It’s connected to the national grid, and surplus power can be channeled to bolster any community energy needs. The 2-megawatt solar plant already can provide enough power to supply 200 homes. It will be upgraded to 5-megawatts soon.
The task of building the Azraq solar plant was a source of income and pride to the team of over 50 refugees from the camp, who were trained by Jordanian solar company, Mustakbal. Some of the workers will be hired to maintain the plant in the future.