Communities in Eritrea benefit from renewable wind energy

Windmills are providing alternative energy for rural communities across Eritrea

Eritrea, located in the Horn of Africa, has a limited supply of traditional forms of energy, such as coal, oil or petroleum. Much of the country relies on wood for household use. Biomass constitutes as much as 80% of the Eritrea’s total energy consumption. Electricity is expensive and unreliable. It is generated through thermal powered engines only available larger cities and towns.

In response to the country's growing energy demand, UNDP and the Eritrean government have been working develop sustainable energy solutions through renewable sources of energy, like wind and solar.

Highlights

  • UNDP and the Eritrean government piloted a wind energy project in Southern Red Sea region, consisting of a wind farm with a capacity of 750 kilowatts in the city of Assab.
  • More than 35,000 people now have direct access reliable energy. Wind energy has improved the supply of electricity to water systems, schools, health facilities and small-scale businesses.
  • A diesel power plant in Assab is now saving 680,000 liters of diesel per year, or nearly $730,000 per year in diesel costs.
  • CO2 emissions have been reduced by 1718 metric tons per year with the added benefit of minimizing smoke-related health complications.

In 2010, UNDP and the Eritrean government piloted a wind energy project in Southern Red Sea region, consisting of a wind farm with a capacity of 750 kilowatts in the port city of Assab. Later, six small stand-alone decentralized wind turbines were installed in the in the villages of Rahayta, Gahro, Berasole, Edi, Beilul and Dekemhare.

The results were instant. More than 35,000 people now have direct access reliable energy. Wind energy has improved the supply of electricity to water systems, schools, health facilities and small-scale businesses. The project also provided lighting, ventilation, cooling systems, and fish preservation centers which have improved the livelihoods of small-scale fishermen in the region.

The project also had immediate environmental benefits, as fossil fuel consumption has been reduced. The diesel power plant in the southern port city of Assab is now saving approximately  680,000 liters of diesel per year, or nearly $730,000 per year in diesel costs.

Smaller villages also are seeing fuel savings. Small villages save approximately 16,000 liters of diesel annually, or $17,000.  The result is a reduction of CO2 emissions by 1718 metric tons per year with the added benefit of minimizing smoke-related health complications.

The Eritrean Wind Energy Application Project was financed by the Global Environment Facility as part of Eritrea’s contribution to climate change mitigation efforts, and co-financed by UNDP and the Eritrean government, which increased its national capacity to plan, design, install, operate and maintain wind energy systems in the country.

Aside from the immediate economic and social benefits to local communities, the Eritrean Wind Energy Application Project is helping minimize the destruction of forests and reduce carbon emissions.

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