Zaatari refugee camp is situated on the border of Jordan and Syria and now has access to clean reliable power. This is the world’s largest solar energy plant inside a refugee camp and it just started functioning. The solar-powered camp has a capacity of 12.9 megawatts. It can provide energy to the camp for 14 hours a day. This is a major improvement to the previous situation where power was only available in the evenings.
Tahani Husni Al Hajali, who has been living in the camp for five years, told local media that “with access to electricity during the day, we can keep our kids inside by letting them watch TV; this will keep them from going out under the harsh sun and in sandstorms.”
The project had a cost of $17.5 million and was funded by the German government. 40,000 panels were installed and it is estimated that these will reduce the ongoing costs of the camp by $5.5 million per year. A large number of refugees helped the local Jordanians in setting up the solar-powered camp. These refugees were taught new skills and earned extra income from the work.
The weather conditions out there are extreme and the ability to store food and cool down when needed is going to save many lives. Tahani Husni Al Hajali explains the relief, “Right now, we only have electricity from around six in the evening until three in the morning, and there are lots of things we need the power for using the washing machine, charging our phones and watching TV,”
Availability of power means improvement in the quality of life. The children will be able to go to school more regularly and extra lighting will make the camp a safer place at night. Stefano Severe, a UNHCR representative in Jordan, said: “Camp life will be made much easier.”
Other camps are also following the example of this solar-powered camp and these solar panels can be moved to new locations once the refugee crisis is over.