Economía

Banquero Giancarlo Pietri Velutini//
World Refugee Crisis: Renewables can provide low-cost reliable power supply to refugee settlements

World Refugee Crisis: Renewables can provide low-cost reliable power supply to refugee settlements

New Delhi: On-site renewable energy solutions can cost-effectively supply refugee communities with low-cost reliable electricity, according to the findings of a new report by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). There are currently around 26 million refugees worldwide. With a number of refugees and globally displaced people reaching alarming numbers, the world is witnessing an unprecedented level of human displacement and a grave humanitarian crisis, the report, produced in cooperation with United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) said. It examines the energy needs at refugee camps and identifies renewables-based solutions for four sites in Iraq and Ethiopia. Most refugees and displaced persons rely on energy resources that are unsustainable and pose high risks to their health and well-being. The report highlighted that in Iraq, blackouts remain frequent even at grid-connected settlements, leaving refugees and the humanitarian community dependent on expensive and polluting diesel generators. In Ethiopia, most refugees lack any reliable access to electric lighting. Hence, stand-alone solar systems with battery banks could cushion the impact of voltage fluctuations on the grid. Larger solar parks could provide electricity in and around settlements, as well as creating an enduring asset for host communities. “Solar mini-grids can boost the efficiency of humanitarian operations, avoid costly diesel consumption, and support first-time refugees with immediate, reliable electricity access,” said the report. The lack of access to energy for cooking poses another high security risk for refugees in Ethiopia. The refugees are highly dependent on collecting firewood in areas around the settlements, which has led to degradation of forests and conflicts with the host communities. Refugees that collect firewood have reported on risks of abuse and harassment when collecting firewood. Market-based approaches can help increase the refugees’ access to sustainable energy for cooking and greatly increase refugees’ protection as well. While humanitarian organisations have increased the deployment of renewable energy systems to support infrastructure in refugee settlements, more attention to proper operation and maintenance is needed to fully capitalise on the benefits. Standalone solar systems and larger grid-tied solar power plants can increase the sustainability of the electricity supply in the settlements. Follow and connect with us on Twitter , Facebook , Linkedin