East Timor solar energy plan nominated for award

The Alternative Technology Association has been named a finalist in the Google Australia Impact Challenge for its plans to create a sustainable solar energy industry in East Timor.


East Timor is one of the poorest nations in the world. In much of the country there is no electricity, with people in rural villages relying on candles and polluting kerosene lamps for lighting and firewood for cooking.

Energy poverty leads to poor health from inhaling smoke, kerosene fumes and diesel gas from generators. East Timor’s Government, despite plans to electrify much of the country, is resigned to the fact that at least 20% off the population won’t have access to a centralised grid in the next 20 years.

Since 2003, the ATA has been working with Timorese communities to provide clean, renewable lighting and electricity. We have helped to install solar lighting and power to more than 1000 homes, community centres, orphanages, schools and hospitals in remote rural villages.

The IPG consists of volunteers who are skilled professionals giving their time and expertise to design, install and provide training for renewable energy systems. We have a strong focus on training Timorese people to install and manage their own solar power and lighting. We work in partnership with community groups in Australia and East Timor.

The ATA’s work focuses on village lighting and capacity building. The village lighting project is delivered within a framework of community development, ATA volunteers working with the local community to form a committee of management. Local technicians are trained to assemble and install systems and the committee collects funds to invest in future maintenance. Householders then benefit from high-quality electric light at a lower cost than polluting kerosene lamps.

The Timor Solar Power Training Project is an example of our commitment to capacity building. ATA technical trainers, in collaboration with training institutions in East Timor and with funding from AusAID, have developed a national curriculum and train-the-trainer material for solar power training. The Certificate II in solar installation is the first Certificate II training course to be recognised by the Timorese Government. The result of this training will be a cadre of technicians at the front line of bringing clean, green energy to rural Timor.

In December 2013 with CNEFP Tibar (an East Timorese training institution) to establish an ongoing technical support partnership. The CNEFP Tibar solar team will perform the installation of new systems, ongoing maintenance of systems and deliver training and practical skill to members of the local communities. ATA will support the services of the CNEFP Tibar solar team by developing an audit and maintenance program, provide funding for services and mentoring of staff.