Situated on the northern curve of Somalia’s coastline, Bossaso is a major seaport, baked by year-round sunshine and refreshed by sea winds blowing in off the Gulf of Aden.
It may sound idyllic but Bossaso is the scene of a seriously impressive hybrid renewable energy system that was installed by WFP’s IT emergency response capacity, the Fast IT and Telecommunications Emergency and Support team (FITTEST) exactly three years ago. The idea was to provide clean power to the WFP compound, including the warehouse.
This hybrid system consisted of a combination of solar panels, wind turbines, generators and grid power and will use the renewable energy first. Only when the load exceeds what the system was designed for, are the generators and grid power used.
On 23 January 2017, the project hit a major milestone when the dashboard – a platform that remotely monitors the energy savings – showed savings of 381,375 kg of carbon dioxide, a volume equivalent to removing 35,000 WFP vehicles from the roads. The projected lifetime savings of US$1.26 million is equivalent to feeding 13,872 schoolchildren for a year.
The impact then is great.
Not only is the system greener and more eco-friendly, it has made a massive impact on the lives of WFP staff working in the office and warehouse. Before the project, the warehouse had unreliable access to city power run on old generators –major pollutants. Being situated close to the port, the warehouse was vitally important for WFP staff to safely store food destined for Somali people in times of emergency. The cost of running the warehouse was also extremely high due to the sheer amount of electricity required.
“The staff at the warehouse needed to be able to operate safely so we had to design something that would provide lighting, security lighting, air-conditioning and extra safety, day and night,” explains Macneal Marwa, a 38-year-old WFP technician drafted in to assist FITTEST in installing the system.
All office lights, air conditioning and security lights are now supported by solar power. Security, too, around the warehouse has improved greatly as the lighting systems are always on, day and night. Best of all in terms of staff safety is that the entire hybrid system can be managed remotely, from Nairobi.
Projects like this reflect the unflagging efforts of WFP staff to innovate and implement new projects that revolve around protecting the environment to ensure that WFP leaves a more sustainable, greener footprint in the countries it serves.