EmNEW signs agreement to seek renewable energy solutions for humanitarian operations in Ethiopia
Empower New Energy (EmNEW), the renewable impact investment company with offices in Oslo and Nairobi, has partnered with the Norwegian Refugee Council to seek sustainable solutions for replacing fossil fuels with renewable solar energy in Ethiopia.
NRC is one of the largest international humanitarian organizations working to protect the rights of displaced and vulnerable people during crises and has provided assistance in Ethiopia since 2011.
The project, “Scaling Solar for Humanitarian Operations in Ethiopia” intends - following a 6 months feasibility study - to finance, construct and operate solar power plants for 2-3 refugee settlements in Ethiopia. In addition to NRC, EmNEW and Ethiopian developer Ethio Resources Group (ERG), the project is co-financed with a grant from Innovation Norway.
The study will also seek to evaluate the potential demand for electricity around the refugee settlements, with the aim of extending the solar distribution network from the refugee camps to neighbouring communities. The lessons learnt will also be documented and used for scaling-up the project as well and disseminated to other parties for knowledge sharing and replication.
Renewable energy in a humanitarian context
The aim of the partnership-project is to deploy a business model that can make humanitarian operations green while reducing costs and supporting sustainable development in the affected regions.
Today, the humanitarian sector is predominantly dependent on oil fuel for electricity generation. According to a study by Chatham house in 2018, the humanitarian sector spends an estimated USD 1.2 billion yearly on diesel petrol to power generators in both remote and urban areas, as well as costs related to reparations and maintenance of the machines.
Switching to clean energy solutions that are available and proven could save over USD 517 million yearly, roughly equal to 5 percent of The UN Refugee Agency´s (UNHCR) funding gap for 2017. These are savings which can be redirected to partially cover existing humanitarian gaps and improve reliability and quality of energy supply.