acciona.org Foundation – Luz en Casa Amazonia Microgrid Pilot Project in Copal Urco (Peru)
Who, What & Where
- acciona.org Foundation
- Luz en Casa Amazonia Microgrid Pilot Project in Copal Urco
- Department of Loreto, Peru
acciona.org is the Spanish company ACCIONA’s corporate foundation having -under the claim of The Energy & Water Foundation– the mission of cooperate for development through promoting the access to energy, water and infrastructures of people and communities with no prospect of having covered those needs or in difficulty with paying these services.
In order to accomplish that mission, at acciona.org we adopt principles of good governance, under which we put into operation a singular activity model to provide access to the mentioned basic services. With this activity we also contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).
In the four years prior to the project, the rural community of Copal Urco only had access to three hours of electricity per day, through a 45 kW microgrid fed by diesel.
Luz en Casa has been providing Solar Home Systems (SHS)-based electricity to the most isolated households in Copal Urco for three years, reaching about 2,200 households across the Loreto region.
The current phase of the programme aims to extend off-grid electrification through a solar PV microgrid to increase the availability of electricity and avoid fossil fuel use in the unique environment of the Amazonian rainforest.
In the context of COVID-19 and the consequential financial impact, the availability of affordable electricity for the community ensures its resilience and capability to cope with rising costs in other domains.
The chosen solution was a 33.5-kWp solar PV station with a 95-kWh lithium battery-based electricity storage system (a diesel generator remained as a back-up system), combined with electricity meters including a prepayment software.
The solution is based on a tailored pay-for-service and service management model, whereby:
- acciona.org has projected an affordable cost per kWh for users to buy the electricity.
- Electricity users will purchase a certain amount of kWh at the Luz en Casa Centre.
- Preventive maintenance of the new systems remains responsibility of the users through a trained community group of operators.
- The corrective maintenance, annual revision of the systems and replacing of equipment due to end of lifetime are the responsibility of acciona.org, without extra cost for the community.
Project Financing and Costs
- acciona.org Peru (project development & implementation, project financing)
- The Napo council (beneficiaries)
- The community’s Microgrid Electrification Committee (beneficiaries)
The solution installed provides at least six hours of electricity per day to 60 households (5:30 to 6:30 and 18:00 to 23:00), 24 hours to three schools, one health centre and one community centre and three hours of street lighting at night.
The project contributes to increased gender equality and to bridge gaps between urban and rural areas, as the improvement of the electric system and the facilitation of daily activities allow for more time for productive, domestic, educational, health or entertainment activities. Such as favouring the local commerce in the communities thanks to cooling systems for small grocery shops.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the electricity provided by Luz en Casa connected the community and classes were delivered online.
In addition, the project creates green jobs. For example, a new job was created for the maintenance of the PV station installed. The operator, a member of the committee, is paid (the rest of the responsibilities of the committee are assumed voluntarily without any remuneration).
Finally, the project contributes to mitigate climate change by avoiding 50 tonnes of CO2 per year and other environmental risks, such as fuel leaks into the Napo River, in the heart of the Peruvian Amazonia.
Key Recommendations for International Funding Partners & Regulators
The support of national bodies to develop such programmes is essential. The provision of a sustainable supply of electricity in such isolated contexts requires subsidies to make the payment affordable for users and economically viable for the service suppliers. Tailored regulations, community involvement and local expertise are critical factors to ensure the success of the project.