Sustainable Solar Energy in Santa Elena
Sustainable Solar Energy in Santa Elena
This project will empower Santa Elena to demonstrate the use of low carbon technology and build capacity at the community level through the installation and management of a renewable and sustainable solar energy system. Two of residents of Santa Elena, Ms. Miriam Choc and Ms. Cristina Choc, are receiving training from the Barefoot College in India to build and repair small household solar systems. Solar system parts, supplies, and tools will be sourced through Barefoot College so that every household in Santa Elena will have a solar system. The village will form a power board to oversee operations and collect small monthly user fees to make the village solar system sustainable. The village will also provide a workshop where the two Ms. Choc can operate what will become a small business enterprise to promote solar technology and provide small solar energy systems.
Plenty Belize will serve as the intermediary partner with the village of Santa Elena to access funding from GEF Small Grants Programme.

There are 48 villages in southern Belize; about fifteen have no electricity. One of those remote villages is Santa Elena, located along the road to Guatemala, and its future connection to the national electricity grid is highly unlikely. Electricity is crucial for development in many ways. It helps children study with lights at night. The village of Santa Elena does not have a village water system. They currently use two hand pumps and carry their water home in buckets. There is a real need for a water pumping and distribution system in the village. Solar powered water pumps would serve this need well.

The project fits the GEF SGP Country Programme Strategy (CPS) priorities under the Climate Change Focal Area. Low-Carbon Energy Access Co-Benefits has been prioritized as a strategic initiative of GEF SGP in OP6. Specifically, SGP ‘will contribute to satisfying global demand for energy services for people without access to electricity’.
 
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Project Snapshot

Grantee:
Plenty International (Belize) Limited
Country:
Belize
Area Of Work:
Climate Change Mitigation
Grant Amount:
US$ 50,000.00
Co-Financing Cash:
US$ 7,600.00
Co-Financing in-Kind:
US$ 48,421.50
Project Number:
BZE/SGP/OP6/Y3/CORE/CC/2018/01
Status:
Satisfactorily Completed

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Project Characteristics and Results
Project sustainability
Environmental: This project will replace kerosene lamps and candles in 45 households of Santa Elena. Solar power does not produce greenhouse gases, so the project will mitigate against climate change by decreasing CO2 released. At the end of the project, detailed responses about energy use will enable the calculation of GHG’s avoided, based on the actual energy use by the households. Social Sustainability: The entire village will have increased capacity to understand climate change issues which will empower Santa Elena to plan to cope with climate change impacts. The Barefoot engineers are building their capacity to maintain the household solar systems, and they will each train others to assist. The fact that the engineers are women also contributes to social sustainability because it will help the village move towards gender equality – indeed discussions during the planning grant stage moved the village to put 3 women in the positions of Chair, Treasurer, and Secretary of the Power Board. The solar systems to be installed will provide lights at night so students can study and improve their grades significantly. This has been shown in a small study of another solar project. Some household systems will be able to charge small appliances. Economic Sustainability: The Power Board will collect small monthly fees so that systems can be maintained and repaired in the long term and the engineer can be paid. The engineer also has the capacity to repair and build charge controllers. From an environmental standpoint, the project’s contributions to sustainability takes several forms. This project will replace kerosene lamps and candles in all households of Santa Elena. Solar power does not produce greenhouse gases, so the project will mitigate against climate change by decreasing CO2 released. As it relates to social sustainability, the entire village will have increased capacity to understand climate change issues which will empower Santa Elena to plan for the future. The Barefoot engineers now have the capacity to maintain the household solar systems, and they will train others to assist. The fact that the engineers are women also contributes to social sustainability because it will help the village move closer towards gender equality. Where economic sustainability is concerned the Power Board is collecting small monthly fees so that systems can be maintained and repaired in the long term and the engineer can be paid. In addition, the solar workshop will eventually operate as a small business, not limited to the beneficiaries. Thus, the initial package of parts includes additional solar components which can be used to generate additional income for the Power board. The engineer also has the capacity to repair and build charge controllers. In addition to the Solar Workshop business, the presence of electricity is a powerful stimulator of small and micro-enterprise.
Replication of project activities
Now that the solar workshop has been established, leaders from other villages which are not electrified can visit and see the use and benefits of solar technology. There is now great potential for other remote villages in Toledo to use solar energy. Based on the favorable outcomes in relation to the Santa Teresa and now Santa Elena solar power projects, it is believed that there is great potential to expand this program to other communities that are in need of electricity. Other communities with competent and well managed boards may now be identified as beneficiaries for similar projects in the future. It may be advisable for the solar engineers of Santa Elena to collaborate with the engineer from Santa Teresa to seize the opportunity to train personnel from within their respective villages so that they can capitalize on possible income generating activities that may become available in other villages (that may need trained individuals to assist with the implementation of their solar power systems). The general consensus among the participants at the workshop was that the Santa Elena Power Board should now put systems in place to have interested residents of the village be trained to become trainers so that the project may be expanded and replicated effectively in other communities in the future. Some of the benefits of the “train the trainer” approach proposed include the following: • Training cost savings – Cost per participant will be typically lower than when hiring an outside trainer due to the fact the trainer will be right from within the village and this will greatly cut down on traveling and accommodation costs. Therefore reasonable savings can be made. • More focused and relevant training– Having trainers from within the village who know the dynamics of the demographical area will make it more possible that trainings provided may be more focused on the specific needs of the communities selected. • Can use current examples – Trainings organized by the Santa Elena solar power board members who become trainers means the courses can be prepared to address each individual community’s electrical power needs using the system in Santa Elena as a model to follow. • Convenience – Organizing training for a group of individuals all with their own timetables and responsibilities can be a very difficult task. However by having trained trainers from the Santa Teresa solar power board in the area, this will make it possible to work around people’s schedules a lot easier and would allow for the cutting out of logistical issues as well as the fact any participants or trainers can be easily reached in case something arises that needs to be addressed quickly. • Team building – Having trainers and trainees who are well familiar with each other makes it possible to develop team building among members of the Santa Elena power board. It is often in this social learning that the most learning is done when ideas are being bounced off each other. This will also likely lead to increased awareness and understanding of each other’s roles as well as enhance morale among Santa Elena power board members and trained personnel.
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Grantee Contact

Mr. Mark 6645243 or 6313191 Miller
Phone: 702-2198
Email: plentybz@btl.net
 

Address

Jose Maria Nunez St., Punta Gorda Town, Toledo District
LAC ,

SGP Country office contact

Mr. Leonel Requena
Phone:
(501) 822-2462
Email:

Address

UNDP Belize,3rd Floor, Lawrence Nicholas Building Complex ,P.O. Box 53,South Ring Road,
Belmopan, Central America