Id Mjahdi, located near Morocco’s Atlantic coast, is Africa’s first fully solar-powered village, according to CNN. Now, the country has its sights set on becoming a model for renewable energy.
The solar power project provides electricity for 20 homes and over 50 people in the community.
In Morocco, 800 villages lack access to electricity, and worldwide, the number grows to 840 million people, according to the World Bank.
Two companies teamed up to test out a sustainable model of energy access for remote communities on Id Mjahdi—Cleanergy, Morocco’s solar power company, and Cluster Solaire, a Moroccan non-profit focused on renewables. Before the solar project, Id Mjahdi residents used candles for light and burned tree bark for heating and cooking, which can cause health problems.
The $188,000 project installed a power station with 32 solar photovoltaic panels, which generates 8.32 kilowatts of electricity, according to CNN. The system distributes electricity through a mini-grid and has a battery that can provide up to five hours of electricity. The project also built a water tower for the village, greatly reducing the time residents need to walk to collect water.
The project was supported by the Moroccan Agency for Sustainable Energy and French businesses Intermarché and Petit Olivier. The village now acts as a cooperative solar farm, where the residents crush argan oil, sell it to the French businesses and maintain the solar network with the sales.
Cleanergy trained villagers to manage the solar network. The project provided each home in the community with a refrigerator, water heater, TV, oven and outlet to charge their devices.
Mini grids like the one built in Id Mjahdi are cost-effective solutions for remote areas. They have the potential to provide electricity for 500 million people by 2030, according to the World Bank.
This solar project can be replicated in villages with 100 to 1,000 people. Cluster Solaire is already seeking funding to bring solar energy to more villages.
Currently, less than 1% of solar power comes from Africa, according to Eniday. But solar power could serve as one of the continent’s top energy sources, according to IRENA. The region will require more infrastructure to be built out.
Renewable energy fulfills 35% of Morocco’s electricity needs, according to Morocco World News. In 2015, the country set a goal to increase its use of renewable energy to 52% by 2030, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency.