Students Install Solar-Powered Chargers In Refugee Camps

12 September 2016, 08:25 | Updated: 12 September 2016, 08:26

Two students have been praised for their work building solar-powered mobile phone charging units for refugees camps in Greece.

Alexandros Angelopoulos and Sam Kellerhals are helping refugees make vital contact with family and friends in areas where electricity is hard to find.

The University of Edinburgh environmental science students have spent the summer in Greece installing units at several locations.

They said they were inspired to act after seeing pictures of refugees dangerously tamper with wires in street lights and crowd round a small number of plug sockets in attempts to charge phones.

Named Project Elpis - after the Greek goddess of hope - the solar-charger has been built in collaboration with Entec, a Greek renewable technology company, and they aim to extended to more countries in Europe and the Middle East.

The units generate electricity for 12 devices per hour and run for 10 hours a day and can deliver electricity to 3,600 people each month.

Each unit costs £850 to produce but the second year students secured £4,000 through a crowdfunding campaign.

They have also received financial backing from the university's Scholarships and Student Funding department and support from the University Chaplaincy to meet additional costs such as shipping the units.

Mr Angelopoulos said: "War has torn apart families but Project Elpis aims to bring them back together and create a means of communication through solar power.''

The students hope to gain more funding to provide additional devices for some of the 850,000 refugees who have arrived in Greece in the last year and they plan to introduce the units to key locations such as ports, detention centres and accommodation units.

Professor James Smith, the University of Edinburgh's vice-principal international, said: "Tackling global issues has always represented the essence of Edinburgh's international ambitions.

"Project Elpis is a great example of a student-led project that makes a practical contribution to the emerging humanitarian crisis in the east Mediterranean.

"Alex, Sam and colleagues are a credit to their university and, I hope, an inspiration to the broader university community.''