Solar power fuelling Jordan's Za'atari refugee camp

Za'atari camp, Jordan. Credit | UNHCR
The UN Refugee Agency has built the largest solar field ever made in a refugee camp in the Za'atari camp, covering the equivalent of 33 football pitches

The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has built the largest solar field ever made in a refugee camp in the Za'atari camp.

Found in Mafraq, Jordan, the camp is home to 80,000 Syrian refugees and has been in operation for over 12 years now. 

Sustainable solutions funding humanitarian aid

Alongside bringing crucial energy to the residents of the camp, helping support education, safety and communication, the solar plant reduces annual carbon dioxide emissions from the camp by 13,000 metric tonnes per year, equivalent to 30,000 barrels of oil. It delivers annual savings of around US$5.5m, which UNHCR can now reinvest in vital humanitarian assistance. 

Cost can often be a barrier to providing energy for refugee camps like those found in Jordan, with many rationed to six hours a day. With the introduction of the solar field, residents can use around 14 hours of energy a day.

The 12.9 megawatt peak solar photovoltaic plant — which covers an area roughly the size of 33 football pitches — was funded by the Government of Germany through the KfW Development Bank at a cost of 15m euros (US$ 17.5m).

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.

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Canadian Solar provided 40,000 PV modules each with 315W of nameplate capacity for the project that has been active since 2017. 

BELECTRIC Solar & Battery Holding — a member of the Elevion Group —  was selected to render engineering procurement construction services for the solar PV power project, and Ingeteam supplied 10 of its Ingecon sun PowerMax B Series inverters to the project site.

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.

“Let's be clear, clean energy isn't just good for the planet,” said Cate Blanchett, UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador, during a visit to the Zaatari Refugee Camp in Jordan.

“It can also power the lights that can give refugees safety and study time, sustainably.”

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