PV-based solutions for energy access in refugee camps

Jonathan Nixon, A.M. Dizqah, Y Zhoholieva, Elena Gaura

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


Refugee camps are meant to be temporary settlements, but many exist for several decades. It has been estimated that only around 11% of people living in refugee camps have access to energy for lighting; a lack of basic energy services has resulted in serious issues regarding safety at night, food preservation and in-door air pollution. Refugees’ quality of life could therefore be significantly improved with appropriate energy interventions. Different photovoltaic-based solutions comprising of portable, modular and fixed installations have been tested in camps, but poor maintenance, unclear ownership and a lack of cultural understanding have often caused projects to fail. Moreover, the use of portable and modular systems is relatively well-established in camps, but there is limited research on the implementation and operation of micro-grid systems. There are also large uncertainties with energy purchases in temporary settlements, and design optimisation based on key financial indicators, such as levelised cost of electricity, might not necessarily give the best solution for a refugee camp. In this study, camp sites in Rwanda and Nepal are used as case study locations for designing and comparing alternative PV-based energy interventions for street lighting, water pumping and household electrification. These interventions are defined using primary data collected via surveys carried out at the camp sites and using the Multi-tier Energy Access Tracking Framework. To establish a baseline, conventional system sizing and optimisation based on energy cost is carried out using HOMER Pro®

The differences in possible modular or micro-grid system designs are compared, with alterative system variations being modelled to determine a trade-off between reliability and cost. The financial implications of supply and user preferences’ uncertainties are investigated and compared
with data gathered on current monthly household income and expenditure. An outcome from the study is several energy intervention strategies that will inform the deployment of pilot plants currently being built in Rwanda and Nepal.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2018
Event18th World Renewable Energy Congress - Kingston University, London, Kingston upon Thames, United Kingdom
Duration: 30 Jul 20183 Aug 2018


Conference18th World Renewable Energy Congress
Abbreviated titleWREC
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
CityKingston upon Thames
Internet address


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