Filed under: Development Environment Peace and security Social inclusion Social innovation

Just to recap: Together with Nesta, UNDP in Bosnia and Herzegovina has been looking for renewable energy solutions for war-returnee families living in rural areas off the power grid.

The successful proposal had to cover the energy needs of the average family and cost only 5,000 euros.

UNDP and Nesta received 37 submissions to the Renewable Energy Challenge, and after an evaluation, the best solutions were selected for field testing.

The following were the main criteria for choosing the winner: cost, energy output, battery capacity, reliability, hot water capacity, average running costs, maintenance costs, simplicity of use and replication potential.

Field testing was carried out for almost two months, and the system installed on Zoran Rodić’s housing unit in Veliko Ocijevo, Drvar, was named the winner.

“This system works much better than I was expecting – even the washing machine works, which was not expected. I have enough energy for the needs of my family.”

Zoran Rodić

Two men installing solar panels on a red roof during a sunny day

The Rodić family has been testing a solar installation – the finalist in our renewable energy challenge

The winning unit was designed to be very flexible, especially in terms of installation – whether they’re on the roof, the ground, or elsewhere, the photovoltaic and solar panels can be easily adjusted for better energy absorption.

It was designed for convenience: Maintenance is simple and can be done locally (by specialized local electricians), it’s easy to upgrade, and it’s easy for homeowners to control energy consumption and storage.

The results of the field testing showed that the winning kit actually provides more energy than what the challenge specified.

Even on a cloudy day, the system produced two kilowatts of electricity, which is more than what the average rural household needs. The batteries also exceed the stated requirements, with a storage capacity of 4,65 days. Overall, the system operates at a level that surpasses the demands of the contest.

Now, two months after installing the Renewable Energy Kit, the Rodić family say that their lives have totally changed. In addition to increased comfort and connection to the outside world, there are economic benefits.

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Finally – electricity is improving the quality of life for the Rodić family.

One of the biggest problems identified in the lead-up to the challenge was food storage, especially for the summer months. With the ability to power a refrigerator, this is no longer a problem. The family can supplement their income by selling cheese and other dairy products, which was impossible before the system was installed.

UNDP is about to install eight new Renewable Energy Kits for families who returned a long time ago and have been living without electricity.

These families will get support from UNDP and will have their kits installed by the end of the year.

That’s just the beginning though – UNDP is negotiating with the Government and other international organizations to get support for even more families living in rural areas of Bosnia and Herzegovina with no access to the grid.

Two kids doing their homework at the candle light. Their mother is watching them.

The Rodić family are war returnees, and were living without electricity for more than a decade.

  • Genevieve Hibbs

    That specification at that price should be very marketable in its own right. The few people who can benefit from free installation could be magnified hugely by others who could cooperate to buy for each other in turn. The returns would quickly make that possible and desirable. Sales through normal commerce would reduce the price too. Well done!