By Peggy Hammond
April 12, 2019
As developers of U.S. utility-scale solar farms, ISS understands what we do has the ability to help people by providing access to affordable electricity. But for those who live in regions with high poverty levels, solar power brings much more than cost savings; it causes significant improvements in living conditions.
Imagine how our lives would change if our homes lacked electricity. As much as we might like to think it is no longer possible in the 21st century to be without reliable power, across the world people face this reality every day. For instance, the Navajo Nation in northeastern AZ, USA, deals with crippling poverty and a lack of basic necessities, including electricity. Approximately 18,000 homes don’t have access to the grid, leaving those residents to rely on what most would consider early 20th century fixes: using kerosene for light and wood for heat. However, the Kayenta Solar Project, the Navajo’s first utility-scale solar farm and boasting a 27.3MW capacity, has brought improvements to around 13,000 homes. The Navajo Tribal Utility Authority wants to expand solar, which will be welcome help for a community in need. And as a University of AZ Indian Studies professor noted: “Navajo is a big, spread-out community where having access to electricity – good, well-priced electricity – is important to community welfare.”
Guyana, South America, with a population of less than 750,000, has approximately one-third who live below the poverty level. In 2018, some Guyanese experienced a level of relief via electricity from a solar array. Supporting its goal of 100% renewable energy by 2025, Guyana added a 400kWp solar system with energy storage capacity of 400kWh. Because the system’s location is in the rainforest, it took coordinated efforts to deliver necessary materials and then construct the array. Efforts were successful, and as a result, 700 residents in the community of Mabaruma have a more consistent electricity supply.
Countries in sub-Saharan Africa, suffering from extreme poverty, are “starved of electricity . . . . According to the World Energy Outlook 2017, . . . more than half the region’s population . . . [lived without] access to electricity in 2016.” In October 2018, UC Berkeley researchers published a report suggesting “solar energy could be the key to providing low-cost, highly reliable energy to the roughly 600 million people in sub-Saharan Africa who currently live without power.” Some relief is coming, thanks to new solar facilities. Kenya plans to have its first utility-scale solar farm operational in early spring 2020, with the expectation that the 40MW plant will provide electricity to 824,000 people. In Malawi, construction is underway on a 60MW solar facility, with completion expected this spring. This is welcome news in a country that has roughly 19 million residents, but electricity is available to only 12% of the population. The plan is to bring the number of homes with power to 30% by 2030, and solar is expected to go a long way in helping meet that goal.
Solar energy can change lives for the better. At ISS, we are proud to be part of the solution and bring affordable electricity to communities across the U.S. For more information on our utility-scale solar farms, please call 828-424-7884 or visit www.innovativesolarsystemsllc.com.