Iraq lightens up, thanks to solar power
SABAH ARAR/AFP/Getty Images Baghdad’s streets are looking a bit brighter, thanks to a little help from solar power. The Iraqi government has started installing solar-powered streetlamps to improve nighttime security in the country’s capital, where an insufficient grid system has long failed to provide enough night light. Plans call for 5,000 of the sun-powered streetlights ...
SABAH ARAR/AFP/Getty Images
Baghdad’s streets are looking a bit brighter, thanks to a little help from solar power. The Iraqi government has started installing solar-powered streetlamps to improve nighttime security in the country’s capital, where an insufficient grid system has long failed to provide enough night light. Plans call for 5,000 of the sun-powered streetlights to be installed in Baghdad, as well as 1,000 more for each of Iraq’s 18 provinces.
Iraqi officials are pumped about the new lights, which have already allowed some businesses to stay open later. Aziz Shimari, a spokesman for the Electricity Ministry, said that more people “are likely to go out at night.”
But its unlikely that a few thousand solar-powered streetlamps, which still often rely on gas-powered generators to supplement their less-than-bright light, are going to shore up major security problems. Nor do they get to the heart of the country’s power woes. Since Saddam’s fall, Iraqis have been snatching up electronics and appliances, putting pressure on the nation’s already shaky grid system. Demand still outstrips supply, and many Iraqis end up paying a pretty penny for generators and other power alternatives.
The U.S. government is pitching in with almost $5 billion to help the country’s electricity infrastructure, even putting up bullet-proof lights around Baghdad, Fallujah, and other major cities. But the United States refused to undertake bigger solar-powered projects because of their prohibitive cost.
As for the new solar-powered lights, they might alleviate a little stress on the national grid — but not without bringing their own share of problems. Desert dust and grime prevent the photovoltaic solar cells from functioning properly, and extreme heat reduces a panel’s lifespan. Solar-power might be a start, but Iraq will need total energy security before it can get the real street security it needs. That means a bigger effort to improve the national grid system, and not just piecemeal — albeit environmentally-friendly — efforts.
More from Foreign Policy
Chinese Hospitals Are Housing Another Deadly Outbreak
Authorities are covering up the spread of antibiotic-resistant pneumonia.
Henry Kissinger, Colossus on the World Stage
The late statesman was a master of realpolitik—whom some regarded as a war criminal.
The West’s False Choice in Ukraine
The crossroads is not between war and compromise, but between victory and defeat.
Washington wants to get tough on China, and the leaders of the House China Committee are in the driver’s seat.