News: Streets of Kabul light up
By Tech. Sgt. Kevin Williams.
KABUL, Afghanistan (Dec. 29) – A portion of downtown Kabul lit up when officials unveiled 28 new solar-powered streetlights along one of the city’s most important commercial corridors.
The 28 streetlights are part of Kabul Mayor Muhammad Yunus Nawandish’s project “Open Kabul’s Streets to the Night” initiative, and they are just the beginning.
“Lighting is essential to improving the quality of life throughout Afghanistan,” Nawandish said. “I’m proud that Kabul City is leading the way down the path to renewable energy for the country.”
Because of Kabul’s crippled electrical grid, utilizing a renewable energy source is a cost-effective way to make the project work efficiently. The project also trains Kabul public works employees to maintain the streetlights.
With more than 300 days of sunlight a year, Kabul is an ideal location for solar-powered lights, said U.S. Navy Lt. Cmdr. Joel VanEssen, officer in charge of Army Corps of Engineers’ Kabul South Resident Office.
“Being that there are limited power generated capabilities and a number of distribution lines at this time, by going solar they’re not dependent on a network to provide power,” he said. “It just draws from the sun.”
The stand-alone poles use light-emitting diode lamps, known as LED lights, that are energy efficient, low maintenance and environmentally friendly. Solar panels collect sunlight during the day and power the lights at night.
Streetlights in a dark city can make an immediate difference on those who live and work where they are installed.
“This is going to have a very positive effect on the people,” said Technical Deputy Mayor Abdul Ahad Wahid. “Shops can stay open another four to five hours longer so there will be an economical benefit. The lights will also enhance security … people will feel safe.”
U.S. Army Col. Thomas Magness, commander of Army Corps of Engineers’ district in northern Afghanistan, explained how using a renewable energy source is nothing new for the Army Corps of Engineers.
“Renewable energy is best for this situation because currently the demand is greater than the supply,” he said. “This is something we’re doing in the U.S. so our expertise definitely helped this project. I am very proud of this moment and to be a part of this ... a lot of people will benefit. What I’m most excited about is Phase 2 and 3.”
The first phase was funded through the Commander’s Emergency Response Program for $147,000. The next two phases of the project involve plans to install streetlights on 4.4 kilometers of roads and scheduled for completion in 2012.