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Solar power restores electricity to remote Croatian village

UNDP demonstration project wins support from private-sector solar producer

Greetings from Ajderovac - UNDP Croatia video

Under two agreements, signed at the Solar Education Center in Zadar on 18 January 2012, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) installed a small solar power plant in the remote village of Ajderovac, near Srb in Croatia's mountainous Gračac municipality. The solar plant restored the electricity supply to the village, which was cut off from the energy grid during the 1991-95 war. The total value of the project is HRK 188,000, with EnergyPLUS, a private producer of solar technology from Ludbreg, providing an in-kind donation worth HRK 138,000, and UNDP supplying the remaining HRK 50,000. With Zadar Deputy County Prefect Rajka Rađenović looking on, the agreements were signed by UNDP Resident Representative Louisa Vinton, EnergyPLUS owner Zvonko Magić and Una Association President Tanja Rastović.

Watch our short, homemade film, Greetings from Ajderovac which shows how UNDP has installed a demonstration solar power plant in a remote village of Ajderovac in Lika, where returnee families had been farming for years without electricity.

Follow the work of the solar power plant live on Energy PLUS portal.

"We see this project as an excellent way of demonstrating the potential for solar energy to provide cost-effective and environmentally-sound energy solutions for other remote areas of Croatia, including its many islands and mountainous villages," said Vinton.

The independent 5kW photovoltaic system generate electricity for the Keča-Desnica family farm in Ajderovac, with the possibility of extending the energy supply to the whole community of seven families (some of whom live in the village only part of the year). Solar panels were placed on the roof of the stables at the Keča-Desnica family farm, which produces sheep, cows and the native "Croatian cold-blooded" breed of horses. The area has great natural potential for raising livestock, but lack of electricity, particularly to refrigerate milk and cheese, has badly hampered its economic prospects. Resident families currently rely on diesel-powered generators, but fuel is expensive; candles are used for lighting. Transport is another problem; the only access to the village, populated by returnees who fled during the war, is a 6-km long macadam road.

"The electricity issue has plagued residents ever since their return to the Gračac area, and fifteen years later nothing has changed," said Rastović, whose Srb-based Una association will manage the solar equipment under a ten-year agreement with UNDP. "The electrification program of [national electric utility] HEP has not met the needs of this village. Installing this solar system will be something new in our area and can serve as an example for everyone who wishes to learn firsthand about solar systems."

"EnergyPLUS has decided to make this donation both because our technological solutions encourage energy independence and because they will provide energy to people who lack it now but whose future depends on it," said Magić. "The educational value of the project is important, too, because production and consumption data will be available online to anyone interested in assessing the potential of solar energy."

The Ajderovac site will be open to the public as part of the educational activities run by the Zadar-based Solar Education Center, which was created by UNDP together with Zadar County and the Vice Vlatković Vocational School. The Solar Education Center educates the public about renewable energy sources and technologies and offers certified training in the assembly and installation of different solar power systems.

Documents for download:
Remarks by UNDP Resident Representative Louisa Vinton