Inside the world’s first all-solar powered village: Id Mjahdi in Morocco comes online with 32 panels that provide electricity to 20 homes
- The small village of Id Mjahdi is now completely powered by solar panels
- Residents used to use candles for light and burned wood for heat and cooking
- The electricity will be used to power a training facility where local women will learn how to process nuts from argan trees into argan oil
This month, a small Moroccan village earned the distinction of becoming Africa’s first fully solar powered village.
32 solar panels were brought online and connected to a mini-grid system that delivers electricity to around 50 residents of Id Mjahdi, a small village near the seaside town of Essaouira.
The project cost just $188,000 to build and generates 8.32 kilowatts of electricity for the village’s 20 homes.
The village of Id Mjahdi (pictured above) in Morocco is the first fully solar powered village in the world
Surplus energy produced by the panels is stored in a battery system that holds up to five hours of electricity that can be used after the sun sets.
As part of the project, every home in the village was given an electric refrigerator, a water heater, television, oven, and electrical outlet to charge phones or other electric devices.
Previously, villagers had lived by candle light at night, and used wood from local trees for heating and cooking fuel.
The project was organized by the local energy companies Cleanergy and Cluster Solaire, with additional assistance from the Moroccan Agency for Sustainable Energy. the French supermarket chain Intermarché, and the soaps company Le Petit Olivier.
The project cost an estimated $188,000 and was backed by Cleanergy and Cluster Solaire, with additional assistance from the Moroccan Agency for Sustainable Energy. the French supermarket chain Intermarché, and the soaps company Le Petit Olivier
The electricity will also be used to power a local training facility where some 30 women from the area will be trained in how to produce argan oil from nuts collected from the local argan trees.
Argan oil has become a prized ingredient in a number of beauty products and the hope is that argan oil produced in the village will be sold to Le Petit Olivier.
‘People that were not working at all and not having any sustainable revenue, the fact that they are working in their village and creating value is very important and very, very valuable,’ Cluster Solaire’s Fatima El Khalifa told CNN.
‘We created an association like a cooperative at the village and they own the whole production.’
The village will be powered by 32 solar panels connected to a batter that can store excess electricity for use after the sun goes down
Solar energy is a major focus for the Moroccan government as the sun is arguably the country’s most abundant resource.
Morocco is home to the world’s largest solar farm, the Noor-Ouarzazate complex, a facility that covers more than 3,500 football fields worth of land.
The facility saves the equivalent of 760,000 tons of carbon emissions from being released each year and generates enough electricity to power a city the size of Prague, or two cities the size of Marrakesh.
Morocco is home to the largest solar farm in the world at Noor-Ouarzazate (pictured above), which produces enough energy to power the city of Prague
According to the International Renewable Energy Agency, the county currently gets 35 percent of the its electricity from renewable sources and the government plans to reach 52 percent by 2030.
Cleanergy’s Mohamed Lasry hopes that Id Mjahdi will inspire people in Morocco and around the world to try and implement solar power in their own villages.
‘People change,’ he says, ‘they have more time, they can have money, they can go to the market, they can buy what they need.’
WHAT IS SOLAR POWER?
Solar panels convert energy from the sun into electrical power (stock image)
Solar power is the conversion of energy from sunlight into electricity.
Two methods for generating solar power exist.
Photovoltaics — the kind of solar panel you might see built into a calculator — are capable of directly converting light into electrical power.
In concentrated solar power systems, however, mirrors or lenses are first used to collect the sunlight that falls on a large area and focus it — creating heat that can be used to drive a steam turbine and generate electricity.
The productivity of solar panels is dependant on the sunlight they receive in a given location — a factor which is dependant on both latitude and climate.
Optimum locations for solar farms include the arid tropics and subtropics, with deserts lying at such low latitudes often being cloudless and getting around 10 hours of sunlight each day.
According to NASA, the eastern part of the Sahara — the Libyan Desert — is the sunniest place on the Earth.
Solar power accounted for 1.7 per cent of the world’s electricity production in 2017, and has been growing at a rate of 35 per cent each year.