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Minigrid Program for Developing Communities Launched, First Installed in DRC

GivePower Foundation, a nonprofit organization founded by SolarCity, has launched a global program to support the development of minigrids – solar power and battery storage combinations capable of providing continuous power to a small village or cluster of buildings – for communities in need. The new solar-powered grids will be applied to projects that impact the following seven sectors: education, water, health, food security, economic development, telecommunications and conservation.

Minigrid solar systems expand GivePower Foundation’s previous work to bring light to a school in need for every megawatt of solar power that SolarCity installed. By expanding work beyond schools to additional and critical infrastructures in developing communities, GivePower hopes to create both safety and security through dependable energy for remote off-grid communities across the world, as well as provide opportunities for revenue for the residents with the gift of power. GivePower’s minigrid systems – typically expected to comprise up to 50 kW of solar power and additional battery technologies – will provide reliable, clean power without the need for extensive and costly grid infrastructures, such as transmission and distribution channels.

GivePower Foundation’s first minigrid system has been installed at the Virunga National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. As Africa’s oldest national park, Virunga is home to nearly a quarter of the world’s critically endangered mountain gorillas, according to SolarCity. The project was made possible through a collaboration with Empowered by Light, an organization dedicated to improving lives and the environment through renewable energy technologies.

Ollivier Girard/CIFOR

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