Azraq is the world’s first refugee camp powered by solar energy

The Azraq solar plant in Jordan will provide electricity to 20,000 Syrian refugees. It’s the first refugee camp in the world to be powered by renewable energy.

The solar plant in Jordan’s Azraq refugee camp has started to produce energy, allowing Syrian refugees in the camp to have electricity in their tents. It’s the world’s first refugee camp to be powered by renewable energy: a 2MW plant managed by the UNHCR and financed thanks to the Brighter Lives for Refugees campaign launched by the IKEA Foundation.

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The solar plant in Azraq refugee camp, Jordan © IKEA Foundation/Vingaland AB

The solar panels will provide energy to about 20,000 refugees who will be now able to power fridges, TVs, and fans, but also to have light in their accommodations and charge their phones, which are essential for them to keep relations with their relatives abroad.

A refugee camp powered by the sun

It’s the first plant of its kind installed in a refugee camp. “Today marks a milestone,” said Kelly T. Clements, UNHCR Deputy High Commissioner. “Lighting up the camp is not only a symbolic achievement; it provides a safer environment for all camp residents, opens up livelihoods opportunities, and gives children the chance to study after dark. Above all, it allows all residents of the camps to lead more dignified lives”. People’s everyday life in Azraq camp is arduous. Located in a desert area in northern Jordan, the camp faces extreme weather conditions. Electricity in Jordan is extremely expensive and in case of shortages some of the simplest activities become hard work: cooking, washing clothes, studying, and walking safely to the bathrooms during night-time hours, especially for women and children.

Energy security and 1.5 million dollars saved

The access to electricity will change the lives of the refugees who have been living in the camp since 2014, when it was established. Also, the plant will allow saving up to 1.5 million dollars each year and cutting CO2 emission by 2,370 tonnes. The aim is achieving up to 5MW of installed capacity in order to meet the entire camp’s energy needs. Being connected to the national grid, unused electricity generated will be given to local communities, at no cost. “The world’s first solar farm in a refugee camp signals a paradigm shift in how the humanitarian sector supports displaced populations,” said Per Heggenes, CEO of the IKEA Foundation.

“We are very grateful to everyone involved – especially the IKEA customers and co-workers who took part in the Brighter Lives for Refugees campaign, the UNHCR, the Jordanian government, EDCO, and most of all, the Syrian and Jordanian people who made this project a reality”.

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