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By Ruth Simón Fermosell
Increasing and facilitating access to energy for the inhabitants of rural areas is one of the priorities in the energy policies of the majority of countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. Many governments are implementing electrification programs with renewable energies thanks to the support of multilateral organizations, companies, foundations and NGOs.
In this context, for example from the International Renewable Energy Agency, during the celebration of its Fourth Assembly, it has communicated the promotion of new projects to bring energy to rural communities, together with the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development, through loans to developing countries.
Facilitating access to energy to isolated rural communities in developing countries is also the objective of the Acciona Microenergía Foundation, which started the Luz en Casa Program in Cajamarca (Peru) in 2009, with the aim of demonstrating the viability of a model of provision of basic electricity service, through renewable energies, that was affordable for users with very low resources, as well as economically sustainable for the supplier. The experience also continued in Mexico, where in 2012 and under the name Luz en Casa Oaxaca, the service provision model was adapted to the Mexican environment, under the same criteria of affordability and sustainability. That same year the Pilot Project was launched with co-financing from the Government of the State of Oaxaca. The Luz en Casa Oaxaca program aims to facilitate access to lighting and other electrical services, during the 2014-2016 period, to some 9,000 homes in Oaxacan towns where conventional electrification is not expected to arrive.
Photovoltaic solar energy is the most flexible and appropriate technology to bring energy to isolated places. The installation of small photovoltaic systems is an affordable measure to carry out this project, since the installation of this technology does not require a previously implemented electrical system. On the other hand, the energy is produced and consumed in the same place, which makes it more sustainable with the environment of these communities and also there are no costs for the construction of transmission lines, above all the advantage that the main source of energy is solar, which is free and continuous for these communities. With the isolated photovoltaic systems put into service in 2013, more than 3,000 LED bulbs were supplied, which report significant benefits in light efficiency and energy savings for users of the Luz en Casa program. During 2014, some 7,200 LED lamps will be distributed among the 2,400 new beneficiary families.
Of the 5,100 bulbs distributed by ACCIONA Microenergía Perú with the LC1700 Project, 2,500 were LEDs and 2,600 were CFL (compact fluorescent). Supplied LED bulbs over energy efficient fluorescent bulbs are more advantageous as lighting is more efficient with a 20% increase in the number of lumens per watt. On the other hand, being light bulbs of lower power (55% less), the availability of energy for other uses is increased. Likewise, the useful life of the former is at least three times that of the latter, resulting in significant savings for users. Finally, they are more respectful with the environment, since they do not contain polluting elements that make it necessary to remove them to a special recycling point.
In Mexico, the first 570 lamps supplied by ACCIONA Microenergía México with the Pilot Light Project in Casa Oaxaca also use LED technology. It is noteworthy that in the survey carried out 3 months after the systems were put into service, the beneficiaries expressed their satisfaction with the light intensity provided by these lamps, which they consider sufficient to carry out their daily tasks.
Appreciating all these advantages, the ACCIONA Microenergía Foundation has decided to use LED technology for all its projects. Specifically, for this year 2014, the ACCIONA Microenergía Foundation has managed the acquisition of 2,700 led bulbs corresponding to the Extension of the LC1700 Luz en Casa Project in Peru and 4,500 led bulbs for the LCO13 Luz en Casa Oaxaca Project.