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Solar-powered futures

The problem of energy access is so urgent and influences so many of the factors necessary for a decent quality of life that the United Nations has urged countries to eliminate energy poverty by 2030.

Working through UNHCR, we funded the first solar plant ever built to serve a refugee camp. When the programme began in Azraq, Jordan in 2015, refugees did not have access to electricity. The plant opened in 2017, bringing renewable energy to Azraq shortly after it was connected to the national grid. Now, the camp’s 37,000 residents can refrigerate their food to stop it from spoiling in the desert heat and run fans to keep cool. They can start small businesses, in their shelters or in the camp’s market squares, study after dark, save time on chores, and stay connected to far-away family. The plant reduces CO2 emissions by over 2,000 tonnes per year and saves UNHCR US$1.5 million annually, which can be invested in other services.

© IKEA Foundation

Now the residents of Azraq refugee camp can earn an income, study, read and play after dark.

Solar power is also a pillar in our partnership with the SELCO Foundation in India. SELCO provides clean, reliable and affordable energy to communities like Raghu’s with little or no electricity in their homes, schools or health centres. SELCO also invests in local renewable-energy enterprises, which give families opportunities to earn a sustainable income, to live in healthier homes, and to enjoy better healthcare and education.

Now I can work at any given time.

Raghu, potter

Now I can work at any given time.

Raghu, potter
© SELCO Foundation

As one of the few remaining potters in the Indian village of Aloor, Raghu Kullal was struggling to meet the local market’s demands because his craft is so labour-intensive. That changed, however, when he started using a solar-powered pottery wheel. The energy-efficient machine let Raghu triple his productivity rate and income, and his success has inspired fellow potters in his village to take up the craft again.

“Now I can work at any given time, irrespective of power cuts because my wheel is solar-powered,” he says. “I can employ four people. My income has improved by 150 per cent.”