The climate in Iraq is hot and dry with plenty of sunshine. Since the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the electricity infrastructure has been in shambles. The actual electricity production in IraqIraq is about one-third of the electrical grid’s capacity. The U.S. government, as of July last year, spent $4.91 billion repairing the Iraqi infrastructure, but only there is only a few hours of electricity a day for most Iraqis. Enter solar energy.
In Baghdad, 6,000 solar powered street lights have been installed, and thousands more have been ordered from the German company, Phaesun, by the Iraqi Ministry of Electricity. Street lights were also installed in Basra, Fallujah, Kharma, and Sakalaweyah with the help of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
“Choosing solar energy has many advantages for Iraq. The country has a large surface area, which is good for setting up solar panels and also plenty of sun and solar radiation. The national grid doesn’t function well and that makes off-grid solar power systems a super solution,” said Matthias Kaiser of Phaesun.
“The lights that we installed have an 80-watt panel on them, a lead-acid battery and a 18-watt fluorescent light bulb on them,” said John Offen, an engineer with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. ” The city of Fallujah didn’t have power at night and this was an easy way to light up the streets that didn’t depend upon any remote source of power.”
The Army Corps of Engineers is considering solar energy for Iraqi homes. The particular system under consideration would provide 2.68 kilowatts of energy, enough for 12 hours of electricity a day in Iraqi homes.
The Army Corps of Engineers adopted “green ethics” in 2002. “We’ve always felt that taking care of the environment was one of our key missions,” said Candice Walters, public affairs specialist for the corps of engineers. “There’s been a lot of emphasis of sustainability. This was just an acknowledgment of the world around us.”
A photovoltaic solar cell system was installed in a medical clinic in Northeastern Baghdad. Before the system was installed the clinic could only operate during the day because the electricity is unreliable. The solar project was created and constructed almost completely by Iraqis.
Solar-powered water filters will be installed in an Iraqi village, funded by the Commander’s Emergency Relief Program, part of the U.S. Army. The water purifier will be powered by solar energy and will provide potable water for the villagers. The U.S. armed forces already have installed six similar purifiers.