The tiny remote village of Irig N’Tahala, in Morocco’s southern Tiznit province, has long suffered from power cuts and poor living conditions.

Sunrise over Tahala, Souss-Massa-Drâa region, Morocco. © Zakaria Wakrim / Greenpeace

But now a decentralised intelligent solar energy network with digital distribution has given Tahala residents a surge in power and confidence by providing them with clean, free energy. Not only that, but the smart grid system was designed and developed in such a way that respects and works in harmony with villagers’ daily social, economic, cultural and religious lives.

Attika school microgrid in Tahala. © Zakaria Wakrim / Greenpeace

The impact on life in Tahala has been huge - powering the mosque, school and other local amenities - and the project, developed earlier in 2016, provides a successful model for replication in other North African and Arab countries, and beyond. It demonstrates the incredible potential for solar energy to create independence in communities - and was conceived, financed and developed in Morocco, by Moroccans, for Moroccans.

Pupils in the computer room, which runs on solar energy. © Zakaria Wakrim / Greenpeace

In fact, the Tahala solar project is so successful that it creates a surplus of energy, thanks to the region’s vast solar potential. The energy-efficient water pumping network, which provides water independence throughout Tahala, was a bonus for the village.

Irrigation of Argan trees by solar-powered water pump. © Zakaria Wakrim / Greenpeace

As the president of the Irig N’Tahala women’s club, Fatima Boumzoug, says: “The project brought to life in our village had a major impact on our everyday lives. Before the microgrid, we were suffering the consequences of electricity power cuts and lack of energy funding. Thanks to this project, women and men of Irig N’Tahala now benefit from free energy.”

Overhead power lines in the Tahala network. © Zakaria Wakrim / Greenpeace

Dania Cherry is a Communications Officer with Greenpeace Mediterranean / Arab World