How difficult is it to live without sustainable electricity in the community of Soledad in the Peruvian Amazon?

On July 20, 2021, the LUTW team arrived at the native community of Soledad, located in the Santiago River basin, 6 hours by boat from the city of Santa María de Nieva, in the Amazonas region of Peru. Approximately 70 families live in this community where the main economic activities are agriculture and trade. 

In Soledad, the electrical grid has not arrived due to the remoteness of the area, which has left many homes and institutions with generators as their only electrical option.  However, there are few households that have access to them due to their high associated costs. In fact, the recent rise in fuel costs have left families with no other choice but to live without light and appliances.

When a generator is turned on, it generates a lot of noise in the normally tranquil Amazonian night. This has become an indicator of light and energy , which draws in many children so that they can charge the few devices they have and use them for learning and entertainment. Some villagers have made the move to small solar panel systems, however the lack of installation and design knowledge causes system failures within months of installation. The consequences being a lose of investment for the village and many times also damaging the few devices they do have.

Why we choose the community of Soledad

The Soledad primary school is an institution that houses about 180 students , is a cement and wood structure and provides a suitable teaching environment. However, from the day its opened its doors it has never had electricity We had the opportunity to evaluate the school in March 2021 in order to verify the energy needs of the school and after assessing the impact that a photovoltaic system might have on the students and their community, it was evident that the Soledad Primary School was a good candidate for a LUTW project.

Our impact on the Soledad Primary School

LUTW designs custom systems that meet the energy needs of each particular institution. Due to its energy requirements, the primary school of Soledad has a system of 1300W of installed solar modules, a battery bank of 960Ah, and an inverter of 2000W. The electrical work was installed in each of the classrooms, offices, and bathrooms adding a total of 23, 5W lightbulbs and 20 outlets for the use of laptops, cell phones, TV, radios, a projector, and a blender. 

This type of system is to date, one of the largest systems that LUTW has installed in a school.  With the quality of electricity being just as good, if not better than in major cities.

For our school the arrival of the LUTW was very important since now we will be able to use our printers and laptops. Teachers will be able to improve the quality of their classes by using their laptops and cell phones, and students will benefit from the use of tablets that the government has given us for teaching purposes. It is now our responsibility to preserve and take advantage of this community asset

Virgilio Samarén, director of the primary school in Soledad.

The work done in the community was a joint effort from its members who contributed to the success of the installation and with coordination with the local authorities. After 4 days of work the installation was completed and the community was asked to participate in the inauguration of the solar system. The local authorities of the community such as the Leader of the Wampis Nation,  Mr. Teófilo Kukush, Leader of the community, Mr. Pepe Flores Tsukanka, and Principle of the school Mr. Virgilio Samaren, shared a few words of gratitude and emphasized the importance of maintaining the care of the system to the community. 

Special thanks to Félix Encinas, director of the UGEL of Río Santiago, Mr. Pepe Flores, Mr. Julio Taminche, manager of the Tambo de Soledad, for offering us shelter. To the family of Mr. Romer Chupa who looked after us with great care during our stay, and all the people who helped in the coordination and project execution in the town of Soledad.

Follow along for our #LightUpTheAmazon campaign! In the coming weeks we will be sharing the stories of our Peruvian projects team  and there experience lighting up 6 schools in the Peruvian Amazon. We are sharing these stories to give you a glimpse at the impact that sustainable energy has in the Amazonas regions of Peru. We are now fundraising to provide solar systems for our last 2 schools in our Amazon 2021 projects! If you enjoyed our read please consider sharing or donating to the campaign!

To learn more head to our Current Projects Page.

As part of our LIVE Question & Answer session with our Projects Assistants we will be asking all of your questions! Have a question for our Peru projects team – enter it below! We will be sharing all the answers at the end of our campaign.