Solar minigrids bring water to Ethiopian farms

Oct. 12, 2022
In a new pilot project, the DREAM initiative has launched nine solar minigrid powered large scale irrigation systems in Ethiopia.

Ethiopia has launched nine large scale irrigation systems powered by solar minigrids, thanks to the Distributed Renewable Energy – Agriculture Modalities, or DREAM initiative.

Agriculture is a major part of Ethiopia’s economy, yet only 5% of the country’s land is irrigated. As a result, crop yields on small farms are below regional averages.

Those behind the DREAM initiative said that the pilot project will help the country meet its goal to irrigate nearly 5 million acres by 2030. According to Hizkyas Dufera, a senior adviser to the Ministry of Irrigation and Lowlands, the solar minigrids will help the nation “achieve national food security and food sovereignty through the expansion of commercially viable, environmentally friendly, climate resilient, and technologically advanced irrigation schemes.”

Rural transformation

The solar minigrids are designed to replace the diesel generators farmers currently use to pump water with reliable, clean and affordable electricity.

Yifru Tafese, deputy director general at the Ethiopian Agricultural Transformation Institute, said the DREAM initiative will “contribute to increasing sustainable agricultural production and growing smallholder farmer incomes.” He also believes the initiative will pave the way for broader rural transformation.

DREAM initiative has big plans

Tafese added that the launch of the DREAM project “is the beginning of a great journey bridging off-grid renewable energy and irrigated agriculture.”

According to Habtamu Itefa, minister with Ethiopia’s Ministry of Water and Energy, the DREAM initiative will build 200 minigrids over the life of the program. He said they will “provide new or improved access to electricity to over 290,000 people, create or improve more than 60,000 jobs, while displacing up to 200,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.”

DREAM initiative partners include various Ethiopian government entities, the Global Energy Alliance for People and Planet, The World Bank, the European Investment Bank and the African Development Bank – Sustainable Energy Fund for Africa.

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About the Author

Kathy Hitchens | Special Projects Editor

I work as a writer and special projects editor for Microgrid Knowledge. If you’re presenting at a Microgrid Knowledge conference, you can expect to hear from me at some point! I have over 25 years of writing experience, working with a variety of companies in the entertainment, education, and financial industries. For the past five years, I’ve focused exclusively on recreational vehicles, electric vehicles, and the renewable energy industry, where I’ve written about utilities, solar, and wind energy companies (I like to keep things diverse!). I have a BFA in Media Arts from the University of Arizona and a MBA from the University of Denver.


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