Syrian refugees in Jordan's desert get solar power

Jordan's Azraq becomes world's first clean energy refugee camp

Jordan's Azraq becomes world's first clean energy refugee camp

Syrian refugees in Jordan's remote desert were connected to solar power on Wednesday, making their community the world's first refugee camp to be powered by renewable energy.

According to the UNHCR website, the new solar farm - the world's first to be built in a refugee setting - will supply power to the nearly 5,000 shelters in Azraq camp for the first time in two-and-a-half years, allowing each to connect a fridge, a TV, a fan, have light and charge their phones.

The plant, which was funded by the "Brighter Lives for Refugees" campaign organized by the IKEA Foundation, will provide partial supply of electricity to the camp's residents who were deprived from power for three years.

In January 2017, 20,000 residents were hooked up to the electricity grid, with the remainder expected to be connected by the end of the year. With the solar plant, the refugee agency saves $1.5 million a year in electricity costs.

The UN's refugee agency, the UNHCR, yesterday announced the 2MW is covering the power needs of 5,000 shelters, allowing refugees to power lights, phone chargers, fans, fridges or TVs.

The newly constructed €8.75 million plant (pictured below), which was funded entirely by the IKEA Foundation's Brighter Lives for Refugees campaign, was switched on at Jordan's Azraq refugee camp on Wednesday by United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR.

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Each family in nearly 5,000 shelters in the desert camp will be able to use electricity generated by a solar plant.

Mohammad, 20, from the Damascus suburb of Ghouta, was one of those who worked to build the frames that support the solar panels and installed the plant's electrical circuits. It will result in immediate energy savings of US$1.5 million a year - which UNHCR will now be able to reinvest in other areas - as well as annual Carbon dioxide emissions savings of 2,370 tons. Any extra electricity will be sent for free to the cover the host community's energy needs.

During construction of the solar farm, more than 50 refugees were trained and employed under the supervision of Jordanian solar company Mustakbal.

"Today marks a milestone", said Kelly T Clements, UNHCR Deputy High Commissioner. "Above all, it allows all residents of the camps to lead more dignified lives". "Once again the partnership between IKEA Foundation and UNHCR has shown how we can embrace new technologies, innovation and humanity while helping refugees." . For each LED light-bulb sold by IKEA during the campaign period, the IKEA Foundation donated €1 to UNHCR to bring renewable energy and education to refugees.