Solar energy is helping people in Afghanistan lead a more normal life, even if all that means is having well-lit streets at night.

For the first time in years, citizens of Afghanistan’s capital city, Kabul, are enjoying street lighting  after US engineers flipped the switch on 28 new solar-powered streetlights that they hope will lead to a feeling of enhanced security in the city.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony marked the event and signalled the beginning of two more solar streetlight projects under the Afghanistan Engineering District-North’s Commander’s Emergency Response Program, or CERP. The project is similar to a successful 140 solar light installation in Zabul province in 2009.

“I know that this will have a positive impact. The moment we started lighting the road, people were extremely happy. There were like ‘wow we are living in a real city’,” said Kabul deputy mayor Abdul Ahad Wahid.

Kabul’s aged and war-ravaged electricity grid cannot support even the seeming inconsequential burden of street lighting and still maintain consistency. According to Steve Ernst, project manager; the demand for power is simply greater than the supply.

“The standard streetlights are not being used for this reason. Also, the infrastructure for buried wire [to power the streetlights] is not in place; construction would be disruptive to local businesses and result in longer construction times. By using solar power, the city of Kabul is keeping the demand for power low and enabling more homes to have power.” he said.

“The shops can be open for four or five more hours; the people can come and they can buy more. It will enhance their lives … because the more you sell the more you spend,” said deputy mayor Wahid.
Source: energymatters