Electricity in the modern world is only a necessity, but a human right. Now the Azraq refugee camp in Jordan has access to electricity thanks to a 2 megawatt solar farm funded through a partnership between the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and the Ikea Foundation. It’s a first for a refugee setting and is generating free electricity for 20,000 refugees living in 5,000 temporary shelters.
“Today marks a milestone. 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,” said Kelly T. Clements, UNHCR deputy high commissioner. “Once again the partnership between IKEA Foundation and UNHCR has shown how we can embrace new technologies, innovation and humanity while helping refugees.”
The $9.8 million solar power plant was entirely funded by Ikea’s Brighter Lives for Refugees program, which donates $1.12 from every LED light bulb sold to UNHCR. So far, the Ikea Foundation has raised $34.5 million to fund UNHCR projects to bring clean energy and education to refugees around the world.
The solar farm is expected to save $1.5 million in annual electric costs and reduce carbon emissions by 2,370 tons annually. The savings from the energy generated by the facility will be reinvested into furthering renewable energy development and filling the refugee community’s other basic needs. There are already plans to expand the solar farm to a total of 5 megawatts.
“The world’s first solar farm in a refugee camp signals a paradigm shift in how the humanitarian sector supports displaced populations. UNHCR Jordan will save millions of dollars, while reducing carbon emissions and improving living conditions for some of the world’s most vulnerable children and families,” said Per Heggenes, CEO of the IKEA Foundation.
During its construction, 50 refugees were trained and employed to build the solar farm and assisted by Jordanian solar company Mustakbal. Some of the trained refugees will maintain the operations of the facility.
The Ikea Foundation continues to develop clean energy and shelter solutions to assist refugees around the world through UNHCR programs. Among other things, it developed a flat-packed, temporary shelter called the Better Shelter which features 188-square feet of living space outfitted with solar panels and a battery system that provides four hours of light and a USB charging port. Better Shelters cost about $1,000, weigh 372 pounds, can house up to 5 people and be constructed in four to 8 hours without additional tools.Tweet