Rural Solar in South America Project

Jan 28th, 2008 | By John Waller | Category: Latin America, Solar PV, Solar-Aid
Being a high altitude plateau in the Jujuy region, Puna has one of the highest insolation levels in the world. No wonder that an NGO promoting solar power is already active in the area.

Being a high altitude plateau in the Jujuy region, Puna has one of the highest insolation levels in the world. No wonder that an NGO promoting solar power is already active in the area.

In South America, the widespread destruction of rainforest poses a huge threat to the planet, increasing the effects of climate change. While the protection of the forest is of great concern, many rural communities have no electricity source and continue to rely on wood for light and heat. Without it, they struggle to survive.

South America is a vast continent. Providing homes in remote South American villages with power from centralised generators is simply too costly for local governments to undertake. A cleaner source of energy is urgently required, so families can cook food, heat and light their homes, pump safe drinking water from underground wells and run small appliances.

In addition, many people in rural South America depend on farming to survive. But they do not always grow enough to feed their families. They urgently need an alternative way to earn a living and build a better life for themselves.

The Solution

With your support, Solar-Aid will work with the Avina Foundation to help indigenous rural communities access electricity and earn a living. Solar-Aid will enable them to set up companies, run by local people, for local people. Smaller businesses (micro solar) will build and sell small-scale products such as solar lanterns and radios. Larger companies (macro solar) will sell, install and maintain solar systems for homes, schools, hospitals and community centres.

This project aims to provide employment for poor people and profits will go back into the community. Solar-Aid is focusing on Jujuy province in Northern Argentina, and Bariloche in the west of Argentina.

As we scale up we hope to provide support in the following regions:

* 100 communities in the South of Ecuador

* 1,000 communities in Potosi department, South-west Bolivia

* 30 communities in the First Region, North Chile

* 1,000 communities in Apurimac region, South Peru

Micro solar companies

With your support, SolarAid volunteers can train the poorest people in the community to build small solar devices and earn a living selling them. Initially, Solar-Aid will also supply the raw materials to make the products. This project will help alleviate poverty by providing sustainable employment for the poorest people. It will help with access to information by encouraging radio use. Solar-Aid will also teach people how to pass on their newfound skills to others.

Macro solar companies

Funding is also needed to train local people to become technicians in solar technology, installation and maintenance. This will be of huge benefit to the whole community. For example, macro solar companies can provide solar systems to schools, so children can study and access the Internet. And with a reliable power source, medical centres can store vaccinations in refrigerators, keeping them safe.


The solar panels contribute to cutting pollution by reducing the number of batteries being used and then thrown away. Using solar lanterns instead of kerosene lanterns cuts down on air pollution. This can also save people money in the long run as the need to buy batteries is reduced – money that can be spent elsewhere, such as on medicines and schooling. Your gift can improve the lives of poor people in thousands of communities in South America.

To support this project or read the Project Blog, visit here:


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