- The 'Luz en Casa Oaxaca' programme has concluded, having achieved its goal of providing electricity using third-generation solar home systems to the most remote communities of the State of Oaxaca, serving more than 7,500 families in 488 localities.
- 'Luz en Casa Oaxaca' was supported by a Public-Private Partnership for Development with the Oaxaca State Government, the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID) and the Mexican Agency for International Development Cooperation (AMEXCID).
- Access to electricity has increased secondary school enrolment by 11%, cut cardiorespiratory diseases and increased activity for local shops, handcraft producers, etc. by 4,750,000 hours per year.
The 'Luz en Casa Oaxaca' programme, implemented by the ACCIONA Microenergia Foundation in 2012, has just reached completion, having brought electricity to over 7,500 homes in 488 isolated rural communities in the Mexican state of Oaxaca that are not scheduled to be connected to the power grid. Third-generation solar home systems were installed to provide at least 4 hours per day of electricity to 30,000 Oaxacan residents, giving them electric light and the ability to run low-power appliances (radios, chargers, etc.) for the first time.
Julio Eisman, Director of the ACCIONA Microenergia Foundation, summed up the project: 'the success of Luz en Casa Oaxaca lies not just in the fact that it brought electricity to 30,000 people and radically enhanced their living standards but also that it demonstrated the technical and economic viability of this form of rural electrification, which is based on combining technology capacity, experience and funding from private companies and local and international government institutions, and by involving users in making the system sustainable.'
Having electricity in the home minimises the risk of eye and respiratory disease caused by relying for illumination on oil lamps and wood fires, which produce harmful fumes and whose intensity is insufficient. In economic terms, this electrification scheme saves about €800,000 per year that would be spent on alternative energy sources and is also providing an additional 4,750,000 additional hours per year for local shopkeepers and artisans, among others.
The programme also benefits more than 9,000 school-age children, who have about 500,000 extra hours each year to study and do homework; the result is an 11% increase in enrolment for secondary school, which improves the prospect of obtaining skilled employment.
Each year, the home photovoltaic systems avoid the emission of over 1,200 tons of CO2 and the dumping of 13.3 tons of batteries.
Solar home systems for rural electrification
In the five years that the 'Luz en Casa Oaxaca' programme has been operational, it has proven the technical and economic viability of its model of providing access to electricity in isolated villages using third-generation solar home systems, which require an investment per household that is 90% less than in the case of a connection to the conventional electricity grid. This means that 'Luz en Casa Oaxaca' can be replicated in other isolated rural areas which, in the case of Latin America, are home to the around 30 million citizens who do not have electricity.
In order to ensure the continuity of the service, a network of six Customer Service Centres has been established in nearby towns. The Centres provide users with advice, repair solar equipment and sell low-power electric appliances that are compatible with the system. Additionally, 488 Photovoltaic Electrification Committees have been established, one in each community, whose members, one of whom must be a woman, are elected by the users from among themselves to represent them in the programme. The committees constitute a network of access in these isolated communities and can serve as a foundation for other social initiatives.
A new cooperation model
The project arose out of a Public-Private Partnership for Development comprising ACCIONA Microenergia Mexico, a subsidiary of the ACCIONA Microenergia Foundation, along with the Oaxaca State Government and the Spanish and Mexican international development cooperation agencies.
A Public-Private Partnership for Development is a very new formula for cooperation which combines private initiative and know-how with support from a range of public sector actors with economic, technical and institutional resources.
The Luz en Casa Oaxaca project also involved civil society: people around the world who assisted by giving interest-free loans through Kiva, an NGO, and also the beneficiaries themselves, who became partners in ensuring the programme's economic viability by making payments which were lower than their previous expenditure on alternative lighting sources (oil lamps, wood, batteries).
Since 2008, the ACCIONA Microenergia Foundation has been the ACCIONA group's vehicle for channelling cooperation initiatives to provide disadvantaged communities with access to basic services. In the intervening period, it has focused on providing electricity to isolated rural communities in Mexico and Peru that have no prospect of being served by the conventional distribution grid, by arranging economically sustainable programmes centred around 'social micro-enterprises' that use home photovoltaic systems to provide a basic electricity supply that is affordable for very low-income users. It applies a 'social micro-enterprise approach', under which the user receives a basic electricity supply from a household photovoltaic system that is affordable in relation to their income; the goal is for the electricity supply system to be sustainable on a free-standing basis by reinvesting economic surpluses.
The ACCIONA Microenergia Foundation is an initiative of ACCIONA, a Spanish company that is a leader in implementing renewable energy and social infrastructures and in water management; it falls under the scope of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, which include ensuring 'access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all'.
More information in ACCIONA Experience