‘Green energy can be the cheap solution for refugees’

That’s according to research by Imperial College London, which looked at how solar could be integrated into local grids

Big Zero Report 2023

Solar and battery power can reduce costs and emissions in refugee camps, researchers from Imperial College London claim.

Most camps use diesel generators for essential services, which is noisy, expensive and emits damaging greenhouse gases and air pollution.

The study looked directly into electricity supply in Rwanda’s Mahama refugee camp. It found that integrating solar and battery power with diesel generators can create a hybrid ‘mini-grid’ that quashes emissions by 74% or 44 tonnes of carbon.

The infrastructure was built by MeshPower and funded by UKRI Global Challenges and Research Fund.

Researchers also explored connecting refugee businesses to the system by investigating power requirements, finding that some businesses could use excess solar power, enabling economic activity without straining the system.

With 80 million displaced people worldwide, only 10% have reliable electricity access, so the use of solar and battery power could have a significant impact on their lives, Imperial stresses.

Hamish Beath, a researcher who worked on the study, said: “It’s important that work is done to de-risk investing in low carbon energy infrastructure in humanitarian settings so that displaced people can have the benefits of clean energy that can allow them to live a better quality of life.”

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