Tanzania sees the light


Tanzania, a country perhaps better known for its agriculture and tourism, has committed itself to an ambitious solar project that will see a total of 208kW of solar power installed at 45 schools, 10 health centres, 120 dispensaries, municipal buildings and businesses across 25 villages without access to the electricity grid.

The $4.7m contract has gone to Camco, a global developer of clean energy projects and Rex Investment, a Tanzania-based solar power contractor, and was awarded by the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), a US foreign aid agency. The project is expected to run from May 2012 until completion in June 2013.

Despite the relatively small amount of solar power to be produced (about a hundredth of the amount to be installed by a single Apple project), it is Tanzania’s largest scheme to date, and because it provides electricity access to rural communities in the Kigoma region, it is an extremely positive step forward.

Only 15% of Tanzania’s population has electricity access according to the country’s Ministry of Energy and Minerals, but certainly does not suffer from a lack of sunlight. Solar power installation programmes, such as this, will likely play a growing role in meeting the increasing energy demand of rural communities the world over; continued migration of rural communities to fossil-fuel powered cities is unsustainable.

Jeff Felten, managing director of Camco Tanzania, said, “We are delighted that the MCC has recognised the positive impact small-scale solar installations can have on rural off-grid communities in Tanzania.

While industrialised countries are trying to rethink or refit their old coal-fired plants, much of Africa could potentially leapfrog that stage and move straight to renewable energy generation.”

Indeed, recognising the benefits of renewable energy and acting on them is something we cover in our most recent in depth report The Rise of Renewable Energy 2012.

The Supreme Court’s recent denial of the UK Government’s appeal over its “legally flawed” feed-in tariff backtracking, coupled with positive clean energy stories from around the globe, may be sufficient to get the UK back on its feet with renewable energy, despite a rather disappointing budget statement.

Tanzania ranks in the top 10 countries for solar irradiation and is making good use of its natural resources. The UK on the other hand is a very windy and wavy little island, which gives pause for thought.

You can do your bit for the renewable movement by contacting Good Energy, the UK’s only 100% renewable energy provider. Making the switch to green power for your home or business is easier and cheaper than you might think.

Related articles:

Every Child Has a Light: the philanthropic solar scheme

As the developed world struggles with their economic crisis, our corporate giants turn to developing countries

Developing world at “extreme risk” of climate change

Picture source: Gopal Vijayaraghavan.