UN Tanzania on a greening mission

Mon, 11/11/19

UNDP Tanzania has recently celebrated the adoption of clean energy with an installation of a Hybrid Solar Power System at the United Nations House in Dar es Salaam. This exemplary move towards renewable energy reaffirms UNDP’s role in spearheading the localization of the UN’s Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL) initiative and Sustainable Development Goals (SGDs).

Verity Nyagah, Acting Resident Representative of UNDP Tanzania, said during the inauguration ceremony: “This sets a framework for other organizations, both public and private, to follow suit, thus helping the country to play a key role in localizing the SE4ALL initiative as well as implementing the Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) to address climate change in Tanzania.”

At the inauguration ceremony on 1st August 2019

Before the inauguration of the hybrid system, the UNDP Tanzania office was dependent on grid power backed by carbon intensive diesel generators, which proved to be polluting, expensive and unreliable. With the new solar panels, 70% of total office electricity consumption will be covered by a carbon emission-free source of power.

“These solar panels will enable UN House to offset 68 tonnes of CO2 emissions annually, while producing an impressive 187 Megawatt hours of clean and more efficient energy,”said Kanni Wignaraja, Director ad interim, Bureau for Management Services.

Switching to renewable energy has strong environmental incentives. Cutting CO2 emissions will effectively reduce carbon footprint of the UN House and its burden on the environment (see the infographic below). This supports the achievement of SDG 13 ‘Climate Action’ while also promoting SDG 7 ‘Affordable and Clean Energy’. UN in Tanzania hopes to inspire other organizations in the region to follow suit.

The solar panels are also designed to improve the quality of life and work, as they emit no sound, while their energy predecessors – generators – are noisy and intrusive. This is a measurable benefit to UNDP and other agencies as well as government counterparts that UNDP works with, practicing what UN promotes: sustainable human development.

Solar panels at UN House Tanzania

The three-month long inauguration of the hybrid system from Feb 2019 to May 2019 was supported by UNDP’s Copenhagen-based Office of Information Management and Technology (OIMT). The unit sets out Smart UN Facilities guidelines, which benefits the hybrid system by highlighting improved crisis responsiveness, efficient storage of energy, and its security and reliability, due to increased independence from power outages. By replacing fuel-based sources of electricity with free solar power, the office will cut its annual costs by $34,618. Further, the initial investment is expected to be recovered within 12 years.

The system also also encourages building local capacities by encouraging local people to acquire new and employable skills in the field, and encouraging local companies to expand into an area of sustainable business.
Shathiso Nyathi, Global ICT Specialist at OIMT said: “The Green Energy team [at OMIT] is very delighted to be part of the global efforts to achieve the SDGs. Witnessing the inauguration in Tanzania for us was a dream come true given all the effort put in ensuring success. We can’t help but stay inspired as we see the direct impact of these projects on Country Offices and local communities at large.”

Speaking at the inauguration ceremony on 1 August 2019, Hon. Dr. Medard Kalemani, Minister of Energy in Tanzania, said, "The beauty of renewable energy technologies is that, it can also be implemented in various forms; for some can use existing infrastructure such as buildings, railway and bus stations, and others thus avoiding usage of much land which could be available for other land uses. UNDP through this system has demonstrated the applicability of office spaces in the development of renewable energy."

Over the years, UNDP has been working with relevant government institutions to create a strong institutional framework that can support Tanzania in tackling climate change challenge. Among these is the preparation of the Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC), which was submitted to the United Nations Framework Conventions on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The INDC is now being revised into Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) to be submitted by the government to UNFCCC as country’s commitment to mitigate greenhouse gases emissions under the Paris Agreement.

The capacity building in domesticating the SE4ALL initiative is also aimed at promoting access to sustainable energy by many by 2030. In this, UNDP has supported the government to develop relevant frameworks to support the operationalization of the Secretariat formed at the Ministry of Energy to coordinate all activities related to SE4ALL in Tanzania.

UN Tanzania has already shown its commitment to environmental responsibility through the adoption of the Hybrid Solar Power System and energy efficiency measures. The next steps to continue this environmentally-conscious trend is reaching 90% of energy use through renewable sources. For such measures, there is a need for collaboration with the government for a change in legislation.

UNDP Tanzania is a sustainability and green technology model and the UNDP is excited to see the possibilities that the combination of these various technologies will bring to their work. We hope this will trigger a movement to build local capacities and smart-facilities, and transform the energy transport sectors in Tanzania, as well as the larger region.


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