In 2016, it was estimated that 362,000 refugees and migrants risked their lives crossing the Mediterranean Sea hoping to find a new home. This humanitarian crisis has led in 2017 to over 2,700 people that are estimated to have died or gone missing along their journey away from homes.
For many refugees, Greece represents a shelter from the danger they're trying to escape from, particularly the island of Lesvos, which received 57% of total arrivals by sea in Greece in 2015. Unfortunately, not all areas in Lesvos are properly equipped to host refugees, lacking access to some basic needs, like electricity, sanitation, and heating.
Addressing this issue, Energy for Refugees (EfR) started as a student initiative in 2017, formally established as a nonprofit organization as of February 2018.
Refugee camps utilise large quantities of diesel to run their camps on electricity. Approximately 3 kilograms of CO2 is released into the atmosphere for every litre of diesel consumed. So in 2017 a group of students at TU Delft, in the Netherlands realised that we as students had the technical skills necessary to design, develop, organise and to execute projects that provide renewable energy in refugee camps to try and aid the refugees while at the same time help the environment as well. Since then the refugee crisis has only escalated, spreading to more countries.
Each year we develop a plan of action, wherein we identify refugee camps that would need our help. Following the usual academic year, we always initiate each project in September. We begin by getting in touch with local NGOs to get a better understanding of how we might be able to help the refugees in their area. Once we understand the needs of the refugee camp, we start designing our system while simultaneously calculating costs and logistics of executing the project, which is then followed by a fundraising campaign to help fund the project. We believe in the utmost transparency in the usage of the funds we receive. This entire process usually takes a few months, after which we execute our projects in the summer following that academic year.
So far we have completed two projects successfully, one in Karatepe camp and the other in the Moria camp, both in Lesvos, Greece. The systems designed together produce 30 kilowatt peaks of electricity. Both projects were collaborations with different NGOs functioning in the respective camps already. If you want a more detailed description of the projects, click here!
The refugee problem is a humanitarian crisis which has left NGOs overburdened with responsibilities. This project wants to address one of the most important problems in the refugee camps in Greece: access to cheap and reliable energy.
Our mission is to use sustainable technologies to solve this problem, making a real impact on refugee camps. We want to improve people’s lives in the camps, contribute to solving the energy problem which will allow sustainable development. We aim to reduce the dependency on public parties and make the camps more autonomous while engaging the camp residents for setting up this system and later maintaining it by themselves.