- Daily Zen
To the massive crowd of refugees and migrants stuck in Greece and other regions of Europe, a smartphone is a lifeline, as long as its battery lasts. However, access to electricity can be hard to find unless someone can harness solar energy and turn it into solar-powered charging stations to provide free electricity.
For refugees fleeing war in Syria, a smartphone is the most precious possession. It provides solace to those who have lost their loved ones to the war and been forced out of their homes. To some, it’s a friend that documents their migration struggle. It also plays a critical role in connecting and re-connecting refugees with worries friends and families. Moreover, it helps them send their location via GPS to contact official authorities when they are taking a dangerous journey. In particular, it decreases their reliance on criminal groups and traffickers, giving them greater autonomy over their journeys.
And yet, access to electricity can be hard to find in increasingly overcrowded makeshift camps. Similarly, cafes, where electricity is always free are always crowded with people anxiously waiting over a few sockets to charge their devices to phone home.
To combat this problem, a group of students from Edinburgh University has designed a mobile phone charging station powered by solar energy. They have installed two solar-powered charging stations in camps, each configured to generate power for 12 plugs an hour using solar energy. Each unit can serve up to 240 people each day.
Every day, hundreds of refugees arrive on Greece’s shores, exhausted from clinging onto boats. Some snap selfies to share with their families they have left behind, others, log into messaging applications, Facebook, and Google Maps to plan their onward journey to safer parts of Europe. Often, they are stranded at the port of Lesbos, sharing one plug, and no battery on their devices.
Cofounder, Alexandros Angelopoulos, 21, and Samuel Kellerhals, 21, decided to bring renewable energy into play to combat energy woes. The first two units named Project Elpis, meaning hope in Greek, were built with the help of Entec, a Greek solar technology company.
The pair had to ward off the red tape in the bureaucratic country to install the solar-powered charging stations. They are onto their third solar-powered charging station and are raising money via crowdfunding to reach as many people stranded on the coast of Greece as possible. They hope to power the entire campsite with solar panels one day.