Dar Bouidar Solar – 1 – how it started

About 20 minutes drive south of Marrakech is the Dar Bouidar Children’s Village where more than 100 children are growing up. A generous and kind Swiss gentleman had long had the idea and in 2015 he founded Dar Bouidar to provide a decent home and upbringing for kids that were not fortunate to have a happy home. The guy is Hansjörg Huber, we’ll return to him.

Dar Bouidar Children’s Village, Atlas mountains in the background

Dar Bouidar can already house more than 120 kids and all their needs are provided for. For instance, there is a kindergarten and a school for all ages. There is a mosque and even a small amphitheater for staging music and theatrical performances. However, Dar Bouidar is neither connected to the electricity grid nor to the mains water supply. Electricity is supplied by a diesel generator. And that electricity is used to power all the regular things such as refrigerators, lights and a couple washing machines – lots of kids means lots of clothes to wash. But electricity is also essential to power several pumps that bring up water from on site wells.

The diesel generator (mosque in the distance)

Here is the issue: Electricity from diesel is expensive. Very expensive actually. Running the village on diesel costs around €3’000 every month. And the generator needs maintenance, which can be costly too. Besides, after combustion the diesel turns into a bit of electricity and quite a lot of CO2 – around 100 tonnes every year. That clearly is not good for the future of those kids.

Morocco is a very sunny country, thus it seemed rather obvious to me that diesel should be phased out in favour of free and abundant solar power. So two months after I had heard about that diesel generator I travelled to Marrakech and started working on designing a system to power the children’s village on solar.
I met with Hansjörg Huber and his team to work out their exact energy needs.

Hansjörg Huber explaining all about Dar Bouidar
Hanjörg telling me about the diesel generator, for instance that they had to move it 100 meters because of the noise and exhaust fumes – initially it was on the edge of the main village area
A rough surveying of the available space for ground-mounted solar arrays and routes where cables may be run

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