Publication - Renewable Electrification of Refugee Camps – Phase 1

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Renewable Electrification of Refugee Camps – Phase 1
Anders Ellegård, Christian Holtz, Mikael Andersson, Linda Dyab, Anna-Maria Roslund and Magnus Lindén, all of Sweco International, Sweden
Published in
February 2021
The possibilities to provide renewable-based electrification for refugee camps and host communities were investigated at the request of Sida, the Swedish international development agency. It was concluded that full coverage of all energy needs would be difficult or costly to satisfy with local renewable sources. Cooking is by far the largest energy demand and would require large energy storage capacity or very strict demand management.

The most feasible solution would be to aim for less than full coverage of energy supply from a central source.

Instead, central electricity supply could be provided for selection of larger consumers, such as camp administration, health services, water pumping and commerce connected through an electricity mini-grid. Households would have to be satisfied with independent energy solutions, especially if cooking energy demand should be included.

A host community can be connected on similar conditions, i.e. serving larger consumers with an extended mini-gid, while most household cooking uses would be served through individual solutions.

The most applicable energy sources for the mini-grid would be solar photovoltaic arrays, possibly in combination with wind turbines and with a reasonable storage capacity in the form of batteries. Backup power sources would be diesel generators.

For households there is some hope that solar PV based cooking systems can provide the energy required for daily cooking, and some illumination services. Backup for cooking would remain wood and charcoal.

If individual solar PV based solutions for households are found not to be feasible, then it is concluded that liquid petroleum gas (LPG) is the most feasible alternative. It is the most widely and technically mature alternative, with less climate footprint and less pollution than any biomass fuel.

A solution for refugee camp and host community with a limited mini-grid for electricity for administrations, commerce and services and individual solutions for household cooking would require at least two financial set-ups: A power purchase agreement for the mini-grid electricity, and possibly for the provider of cooking energy. In addition, a subsidised leasing mechanism or deferred payment scheme would be needed for individual household cooking solutions. This would have to take into account the need for subsidies of different customer groups.