Last month, DNV GL’s Senior Consultant Asal Ibrahim was asked to be a judge in Jordan’s biggest energy Hackathon in Amman. During the event, 50 teams, worked together for 11 days to find solutions to Jordan’s biggest energy challenges.
The event in partnership with the Norwegian Embassy, several NGOs, the private sector and the United Nation Development Programme (UNDP), focused on three areas; helping households reduce their electricity consumption, applying innovative approaches to monitor and control electricity consumption and figuring out a way to ensure equitable access to electricity, especially within refugee camps, which face a shortage of electricity and a continuous need to ration use.
The demand for energy in Jordan has grown immensely over the last few years, further exacerbated by the arrival of a large number of Syrian refugees. This has forced the country to ramp up its fossil fuel imports. Given the difficult economic conditions in Jordan, and the increasing pressure on citizens’ disposable income, the strain of energy costs is increasing for Jordanian and refugee households alike. A significant challenge remains in terms of reducing energy consumption and improving energy efficiency.
Jordan is home to two large Syrian refugee camps – Zaatari and Azraq – housing around 120,000 people. Both camps have solar panels plants providing access to electricity. However, due to over-consumption, the camps are only able to offer electricity access for 11 hours per days. Rationing electricity is a solution to minimizing costs, but a more fundamental problem is to ensure equitable access to energy for each household in the two camps, whenever energy is available. One of the aims for the Hackathon was to find a solution to provide access to energy for refugees living in Zaatari and Azraq refugee camps.
At the launch of the hackathon, Norwegian Ambassador to Jordan, Tone Allers said that partnerships between humanitarian and development organizations, the private sector and entrepreneurs are key to development. She added that platforms of collaboration across different sectors allow for the exchange of innovative ideas and expertise, and the fostering of “new and better solutions.”
DNV GL was invited by the Norwegian Embassy in Amman to take part in the judging panel to shortlist 10 teams. The panel involved 8 professionals from different institutions including: DNV GL, Innovation Norway, Norwegian Energy Solutions, UNHCR - Zaatari camp, Norwegian Refugee Council, Jordanian Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources, Propeller and Al Hussein Technical University.
Speaking about the event Asal Ibrahim said “The teams had great ideas and prototypes that tackle the complex challenges, ranging from renewable energy technology, smart metering devices and algorithms, storage systems and energy management services.”
The final three winning teams were announced as part of the Jordan-Norway business forum 2020, which was attended by Their Majesties King Harald and Queen Sonja of Norway and Their Majesties King Abdullah and Queen Rania of Jordan. The winning teams were:
- Change Makers: a group of Syrian refugees in Zaatari camp who developed a bike power generator from recycled material. The bike will be able to supply power to homes and business during electricity cutoffs.
- Hope for Humans: Is a group of Syrian refugees who developed a tile that generates electricity through steps in the camp.
- Neuro Tech: Is an energy management system that can determine the consumption nature and helps refugees camp management to make fair electricity distribution and reduce the electricity outages by optimized energy management.