A small village in Morocco, Id Mjahdi, has become the first village on the entire continent of Africa to become completely powered by the warm rays of the sun. Africa contributes to less than 1% of global solar power capacity, according to the International Energy Agency, but solar is very competitive there.
The International Energy Agency thinks that solar power could be one of Africa’s main energy sources, but right now the holdup is due to not having enough infrastructure to support this.
Morocco meets 35% of its electricity needs from renewable energy and hopes to increase this to 52% within the next 10 years.
How Id Mjahdi Was Chosen
Id Mjhadi was chosen by Cleanergy, a solar power company in Morocco, simply because this village literally needed everything. It was chosen to be the site for testing a sustainable model for electrifying remote communities. Villagers relied on candles for light and could typically only afford an hour of candlelight for working or studying in the evenings. As for heating their homes or cooking meals, villagers would burn tree bark, which is really bad for your health. Imagine camping, but inside. Where is all that smoke going to go?
This community didn’t even have a water tower and didn’t have a nearby source of water. Girls often would miss out on school just to walk several miles to the nearest well, according to Mohamed Lasry, founder of Clenergy. The first step that was taken in this $188,000 project was to build a water tower, then install a power station with 32 solar photovoltaic panels that would generate 8.32 kilowatts of electricity for distribution through a mini-grid.
The power station connected 20 homes in the village and serves more than 50 people. Each home was given a fridge, a water heater, a TV, an oven, and an outlet to charge devices. I can not imagine not having any of these in my apartment. We take so much for granted here in the US. The solar network also has a battery that supplies up to 5 hours of electricity outside of daylight hours. Lasry tells CNN that the mini-grid is simple to replicate for villages of 100 to 1,000 people. This is sustainable and “is possible to duplicate anywhere in the world.”
Africa Could Become a Solar Powerhouse for the Planet
Africa is often linked with mental images of poor, starving children thanks to those commercials we all saw (at least here in America) as kids. And the truth is, many nations of Africa are extremely poor, yet there is a bit of hope. As CleanTechnica has been writing for a decade or more, solar power could give these countries actual power as they move away from the domination of fossil fuels — fossil fuels that light up the flames of greed, envy, and division that eventually ignite wars. Solar power could give the countries of Africa complete freedom and power from this dying industry, while providing electricity to millions more people each year.
Africa has the largest desert in the world — the Sahara. Imagine harnessing just a small portion of the sunlight landing then and then using it to power up the entire continent, if not beyond. Solar power is an untapped gold mine that could give Africa a new image.