23 June, 2021 Member article

ARE Member cdw Foundation electrifies villages in Belize with solar mini-grids

23 June 2021 – ARE Member cdw Foundation remains committed to decentralised power supply based on renewable energies in less developed regions of the world. In Belize, Central America, the Kassel-based foundation is currently working on replicating its solar off-grid model. Following the successful implementation of the pilot project in La Gracia, the model will be replicated at another location before the end of the year. A 72 kWp PV system will supply 300 people with electricity in Corazon Creek, on the border with Guatemala. The cdw Foundation is working together with the country’s Ministry of Energy and the national electricity supplier Belize Electricity Limited.

Electricity for remote villages

“The pilot project in La Gracia has demonstrated the technical and economic viability of our decentralised solution,” explains Sarah Link, Managing Director of the cdw Foundation. “The knowledge gained there now allows us to replicate the model in other rural areas of developing countries. This is a huge success for us.” The solar off-grid model provides remote villages with a holistic power supply based on renewable energy. Since May 2017, the first solar off-grid system has been in operation in La Gracia. A 25-kWp photovoltaic system and a liquid gas-powered generator supply electricity to 36 households, two churches, three shops, the water pump and the lighting of the village square and football field.

13 kilometres from the grid

Together with its cooperation partner Solar Energy Solutions Belize Ltd., the cdw Foundation will supply Corazon Creek, another village, with electricity via the solar off-grid model in 2021. The community of Corazon Creek is in the middle of a remote hilly landscape in the southern Toledo District of Belize. The village’s nearly 300 inhabitants are predominantly indigenous Mayan people. The national electricity grid is 13 kilometres away. Since the village can only be reached via an unpaved gravel road, the expansion of the electricity grid would be complex and very cost intensive.

Access to electricity as a prerequisite for social and economic development

As part of its national development strategy, the government of Belize has set itself the goal of providing all households with electricity by 2030. Currently, about 10,000 people still live in remote villages that will not gain access to the electricity grid even in the foreseeable future. To achieve its goal and promote the development of rural regions, the Ministry of Energy relies on decentralised energy supply systems based on renewable energies. Access to electricity can enable the creation of structures in remote areas that not only ensure a reliable basic supply for the population, but also create sufficient sustainable employment opportunities.