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Ashden award

Posted by on 17/06/2009

Solar electrification of Ethiopian village wins global green energy Award

London, 20.00 hrs: Tonight, the world’s leading green energy prize awarded £20,000 and the Ashden Award for electrification of rural areas to the Solar Energy Foundation (SEF). HRH the Prince of Wales presented the Award to Samson Tsegaye, the Ethiopian country representative of SEF, for setting up the biggest solar energy programme in Ethiopia.

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The SEF scheme has installed over 2,000 small solar systems in two villages that are off the electricity grid, bringing electricity to these communities for the first time. A further 8,500 units are due to be installed elsewhere in the country by the end of the year.

The judges commended SEF “For bringing modern solar energy technology to deliver light and power to remote Ethiopian villages.”

The villagers pay a low monthly fee (about $1). This amount covers the maintenance and repairs to keep it running. The village committee manages payments and employs nine local people as fee collectors.

The Foundation was established in 2006 by Dr Harald Schützeichel, who had previously set up and run a solar business in Germany. It has developed high quality solar-home-systems and solar lanterns for the 10,000-plus villagers living in Rema and Rema ena Dire, villages in Ethiopia’s northern highlands, five hours’ drive from Addis Ababa. The residents previously depended on smoky kerosene lamps and candles for their lighting and had turned down the offer of free diesel generators in favour of solar power.

Working closely with local government bodies and also the Disaster Preparedness Agency Ethiopia, SEF provides not just technology, but also maintenance and a financial structure that means each household can have its own solar-home-system.

To save villagers walking for two hours to collect water as before, the Foundation has installed a solar-powered water pump in Rema to provide fresh drinking water.

Samson Tsegaye, the Ethiopian country representative of SEF, explained some of the benefits of the project:

“The solar programme has helped develop the community in many ways. The local women’s association has set up a popular night school for uneducated adults to improve literacy. School children can now study in the evenings and one teacher claims her pupils’ grades have improved by 75 percent as a result. Fewer people are suffering from eye and respiratory problems associated with kerosene smoke.”

Dr Harald Sch ü tzeichel, Director of SEF (Stiftung Solarenergie in German), looked to the future:

“We now have a special financing system in place that will allow us to establish a network of Solar Centres all over Ethiopia over the coming years. Our aim is to initiate self-supporting solar businesses across Ethiopia – and to make ourselves superfluous as an NGO.”

To maintain the systems and enable the programme to grow, the Foundation has set up an International Solar School in Rema for local young people, with rigorous six-month training programmes on technical and business skills. Thirty graduates have completed the course and some are now working in four new solar centres which have been set up in other areas of Ethiopia.

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NB: Het project voor de woonvoorziening en ondersteuning van ouderen in het dorp Rema is een aanvulling op het project van de SolarStiftung, maar is daar geen onderdeel van.
Meer informatie over de solarprojecten is te vinden op www.solar-energy-foundation.nl.

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