Cooking, heating water, or the house during winter, reading, listening to the radio, charging your phone, using the computer, watching TV - most people take these activities for granted in the 21st century, but for thousands of inhabitants in Argentina’s remote rural communities without electricity it is a challenge. Nearly 150,000 homes still do not have this basic service, most of them in the northern part of the country.
Since 1999, the Renewable Energy in Rural Markets Project (PERMER) has aimed to put an end to this situation. Supported by the World Bank and the Global Environment Facility (GEF), the initiative connects homes and schools to clean energy sources such as solar panels and windmills.
So far, around 25,000 residential customers and nearly 2,000 schools have been reached, and 300 solar thermal stoves, furnaces and water heaters have been installed. Also 2,000 users in small, isolated communities have benefited from small power systems (generation and distribution networks). The project has also included almost 400 public buildings, such as health centers, community centers, as well as Gendarmerie (Police force) and National Parks Administration’s stations.
In PERMER’s proposed scheme, photovoltaic or wind system are installed for the user, who then pays for its operation and maintenance dependent on their means.
"The project ensures that someone is responsible for the proper functioning of the systems at the provincial level, which allows it to be sustainable in the long term," says Lucia Spinelli, Manager of PERMER on behalf of the World Bank.