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Innovative renewable energy technologies for rural communities in Ecuador

Aug 22, 2013

The Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF), a member of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) Group has recently approved a US$996,000 grant for a project with the Foundation for Appropriate Technology (FEDETA) that aims to increase sustainable access to electricity in remote rural communities of Ecuador through residential systems or microgrids supplied by renewable energies, primarily photovoltaic solar systems. 

This project is part of a MIF collaboration with the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and the IDB’s Energy Division of the Infrastructure and Environment Sector to explore market-driven business models for delivering basic services to poor populations, creating alliances with the public and private sector such as community groups or small local service providers. 

Through innovative mechanisms to access electricity the quality of life of 1,200 people living in the Amazonian Region of Ecuador will be improved. Models include energy prepaid dispenser systems, procedures for the disposal of batteries in order to minimize the environmental impact, and monitoring systems based on geographic information systems (GIS) to develop effective supervision mechanisms. 

The project will pilot these business models in projects for which the Ecuadorian government will provide the investment capital with the support of the GEF.  Management models will be developed based on partnerships between the distributors and the communities. In order to facilitate community participation technicians and community members will be trained in the operation, tracking, and monitoring of renewable energy systems. Additionally, at least 1,000 people in the communities will be trained in the use of the new photovoltaic systems. 

According to the latest census in Ecuador, electricity coverage is at 89% in rural areas, ranging from 60% to 98% depending on the region. This means that approximately 90,000 households in the country do not have access to electricity.  

The project will provide better access to energy for less cost to rural dwellers. More time will be spent on productive activities through the use of renewable energy. There will be less pollution in homes. And children can dedicate more time on homework - daily activities, made difficult by lack of power. 

About the Ecuadorian Foundation for Appropriate Technology (FEDETA)

The Ecuadorian Foundation for Appropriate Technology (FEDETA) is a private nonprofit social institution (NGO) that brings together professionals from different fields of knowledge and has been operating in Ecuador since 1984. FEDETA’s activities focus on technology for development, directed to achieving sustainable human development in the country’s rural communities. With participatory design and the use of local resources and knowledge as its main pillar, the foundation builds integrated processes for technology transfer based on improvements in the quality of life of the most vulnerable populations and environmental sustainability.
FEDETA is a pioneering institution in rural electrification projects and has extensive experience in developing the model for the management and operation and maintenance of energy systems based on renewable energy in rural communities, benefiting nearly 12,000 people throughout Ecuador to date.

About the MIF

The Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF), a member of the Inter-American Development BankGroup, is funded by 39 donors and supports private sector-led development benefitting low-income populations and the poor - their businesses, their farms, and their households. The aim is to give them the tools to boost their incomes: access to markets and the skills to compete in those markets, access to finance, and access to basic services, including green technology. A core MIF mission is to act as a development laboratory - experimenting, pioneering, and taking risks in order to build and support successful micro and SME business models. More information at www.fomin.org.
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