Latin America - EURO-SOLAR Regional Cooperation Programme

Latin America - EURO-SOLAR Regional Cooperation Programme

EURO-SOLAR was a EU programme aimed at giving isolated rural communities, with no or limited access to electricity, a renewable source of energy from the sun and the wind. It was implemented in eight Latin American countries: Bolivia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Paraguay and Peru.

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BACKGROUND

The EURO-SOLAR Programme contributed to fostering human development in socio-economically marginal rural communities. Electricity is essential to provide the services required to meet the basic human needs of access to drinking water, health, education, etc.

EURO-SOLAR provided 600 isolated rural communities in Latin America with a system of photovoltaic panels, in some cases combined with small wind panels, in order to generate electricity. It also provided other applications for community use in the field of education, health and communication (such as laptops, Internet connection, printers/scanners, medical refrigeration equipment, water purifiers, etc.).

The programme is a good example of an action combining poverty alleviation and low-carbon development, because it offered a fully comprehensive vision, linking development, energy and environment as the basic elements for fighting against climate change.

EURO-SOLAR proposed a novel approach to traditional rural electrification projects by mainstreaming renewable energy. This involved linking power generation to a series of goals including improvements in education and health, development of productive activities, skills building within the community and a gender focus.

The EURO-SOLAR Programme (2007-2013) received a total budget of €36 million, of which the EU contributed €27.8 million.

 

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IMPLEMENTATION

EURO-SOLAR was set up as an integrated programme: it entailed not just the installation of equipment but had also capacity building actions aimed at community members to ensure equipment was well managed and maintained and to support the development of services for education, healthcare and information technology, as well as social and productive activities. Every community was provided with a EURO-SOLAR kit consisting of three systems:

  • Electricity generation: 5m² photovoltaic panels were installed in 70% of the communities, while in the remaining communities, 30% solar power was complemented by wind turbines
  • Communication: This was an essential element of the Programme that enabled the beneficiary communities to connect with the rest of the world. The system consisted of five laptops, a projector, a multifunction station (printer, fax and scanner), a satellite antenna, a modem for satellite or Wi-Fi connection, and an Internet access subscription.
  • Healthcare: This system comprised two basic healthcare measures needed by communities: a water purifier to supply fresh water and a refrigerator for medical use, so that vaccines, serum and medicines could be kept at the correct temperature.

Residents of communities in which EURO-SOLAR was implemented used these systems to develop the three components of the Programme:

  • Education and information and communication technologies: Facilitating access to quality education. EURO-SOLAR reduced the digital divide and isolation in the entire communities. The ultimate objective of this component was to reduce the region’s perennial problems, such as early school withdrawal, illiteracy, poor academic results and child labour.
  • Health promotion: Promoting real improvements in healthcare through responsible participation at community, individual and family level, increased awareness and adoption of healthier lifestyles. An Internet connection reduces the healthcare isolation of communities by providing them with distance learning on health promotion and by enabling tele-medicine. Moreover, the presence of electricity and the kit’s health system means that medical refrigerators could be used to maintain the cold chain needed for certain medicines and vaccines, and clean water was available for treating patients.
  • Social and productive activities: Each of the kit’s three systems interacted with this component in a synergetic manner. Electricity allowed many of the community’s tasks to be performed faster, which gave people more time to take part in other social and productive activities. Also, access to information and communication technologies facilitated access to information to explore new market or employment opportunities. The Programme’s healthcare system enabled communities to live more healthily, which intended to lead to higher productivity and a social setting in which further health-related actions could be implemented.

 

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RESULTS

Thanks to the EURO-SOLAR programme, more than 300 000 people in 600 rural communities from 8 Latin American countries now benefit from electricity, access to the Internet through computers within schools, the possibility to use refrigerators for sanitary purposes, etc. The communities were provided with a total of 3 000 Internet-connected computers, 500 satellite antennas, 2 500m² of solar panels and 7 200 gel batteries. Through its actions, EURO-SOLAR fostered the development of basic health and education services in remote rural communities, facilitated communication with the outside world, supported sustainable production and consumption models, and fostered the use of renewable energies.

 

Results of the EURO-SOLAR Ex-post evaluation:

 

Additional documents:

 

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