A tiny village near the Moroccan Atlantic coastline Id Mjahdi, is hoping to become Africa’s first village to be powered only by solar power. Due to the many hours of sunlight in Africa, the continent has the potential to use solar power as its main power source, says the international energy agency. However, more infrastructure is needed as currently only 1% of all solar power produced in the world comes from Africa.
Morocco is one of the leading nations in Africa that is trying to fulfil its solar potential. At this moment in time, the country already produces 35% of the energy it uses from renewable sources and has aims to get this figure to 52% by the year 2030. This makes Morocco a leader in using sustainable energy sources.
Morocco is also home to the largest solar farm in the whole world, the Noor-Ouarzazate complex. The up and coming project now in Id Mjahdi, which is on the outskirts of the city of Essaouira, is now being pitched as the new way in which remote villages can be powered that would otherwise be expensive to connect up to the national grid.
Whilst there are many other villages in Africa which make use of solar power, Id Mjahdi will use it for all its power needs.
Cleanergy are the solar power company who are leading this project. When looking for a village to trial the new sustainable model on, they were on the lookout for a remote village which needed everything. In Id Mjahdi, before the scheme was implemented, villagers had to rely on candles for light in the evening and night in addition to this they had to burn tree bark to provide heating and cooking, which had negative impacts on the villager’s health. The village was so remote that it did not even have a nearby water source and on some occasions, pupils would miss school, in particular girls, to walk several miles to the nearest water wells.
The $188000 project involved firstly building a water tower for the community, after this was the installation of the solar power. The power station is made up of 32 solar photovoltaic panels which generate 8.32 kilowatts of energy which is then distributed through the mini grid.
The mini grid is connected to around 20 households in the village, which helps provide electricity to over 50 people. Households within the community have all been provided with appliances such as fridges, TVs, ovens, water heater and outlets to charge devices. The solar network also has a battery which can provide electricity for around five hours for when there is no light.
In October, Cleanergy also provided the village with some solar powered buildings. These included some public baths, a workshop for women to study and learn as well as produce argan oil and a preschool for younger children aged between three and six.
The preschool in the village allows for the mothers of the children to work and learn. Many of the mothers did not go to school when they were children so now they have to opportunity to learn to read, write and train for scholarships. The mothers also have more time to produce argan oil, which is then sold on to cosmetics companies. Some of the profits are passed onto the association who runs the solar network so that it can carry on being maintained.
People are hopeful that the mini grid sustainable model can be scaled up to villages of around 1000 people. Morocco alone has around 800 villages without electricity so this technology could be utilized to provide them with power.