Lighting up Timorese community buildings

Health Clinic on Atauro Island

Renew’s International Projects Manager Harry Andrews is in Timor-Leste right now working on our Solar for Timor project. Here’s an update from the project’s last few months. 

Since 2003, Renew has installed solar systems on over 100 community buildings in Timor-Leste.  These buildings include health clinics, schools, training centres, police posts, radio stations, and social enterprises.

In off-grid rural areas of Timor-Leste, solar energy is often the only electrical option to facilitate the provision of essential services. Electricity provides light to study for exams or deliver a baby at night, recharge phones and operate computers and printers access, record keeping and print educational materials.



Left: Roman Luan and CNEFP accessing Atauro sites by water. Right: Uaro Ana Community Centre on Atauro.

In 2019, in collaboration with our technical partner the Centro Nacional de Emprego e Formacao Profissional (CNEFP), Renew conducted an audit of all the systems we have installed.  The results were mixed.  Unsurprisingly, after 15 years since the first systems were installed, many of the systems were no longer working or had disappeared.  Since 2003, the electricity grid in Timor-Leste has expanded significantly.  Once the grid reached many of our off-grid installations, we assume the system components were re-purposed by locals.  The audit, however, identified over 40 of these systems, at off-grid or end-of-grid locations, that would benefit from ongoing support from Renew.  Renew will attempt to launch a sponsorship program in 2020 to help support ongoing maintenance for these community buildings.

The 2018 Gift of Light campaign, combined with funds leveraged from the Andrew McNaughton Foundation and another private foundation, has enabled us to embark on repairs and new installations on 12 community buildings (2 health clinics, 2 community buildings, 8 educational buildings).    These buildings are located in the Baguia subdistrict and on Atauro Island.

Left: Kindergarten in progress - Atauro Island. Right: Loading equipment at DPA Solar to take to Rotary Donations-In-Kind for shipments.

Site inspections were carried out in July 2019 and systems designed and equipment procured and shipped over July and August.  A big thank you to DPA Solar in Port Melbourne who helped us with very keen pricing on Victron equipment.  Installations and repairs will begin in November on Atauro and in early December in Baguia.  CNEFP will be managing the installation process with help from our local partners Roman Luan (Atauro) and Ho Musan Ida (Baguia).

We look forward to providing an update and some photographs late in 2019 once these systems have been installed.

Our work in Timor-Leste wouldn’t be possible without the generous support of our donors. You can donate here to allow us to support more remote Timorese villages.