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Photovoltaic Systems bring new opportunities to educational institutions in the native community of Cucuasa

by Luis Montano

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LIFE IN CUCUASA

On July 25 2021, our LUTW technical team arrived at the port of the native community of Cucuasa. This community is 8 hours from Santa María de Nieva, in the district of Río Santiago and like most communities in the district is only accessible by boat. Cucuasa is characterized by being a cheerful, warm and collaborative community. In Cucuasa the native language, “Wampis”, is widely spoken, and closely links the community to its ancestral culture. The main economic activities are trade, hunting and gathering, construction, and agriculture. The community prides itself on communal work and activities on a daily basis, all while drinking masato (a typical drink of the Amazon made from yuca root). The masato drink serves an energizer.

LUTW'S IMPACT

Cucuasa Pre-School

LUTW approved three projects within the community of Cucuasa: A pre-school, primary school and a high school. The pre-school was built 10 years ago, remains in good structural condition and is a useful space for hosting daily classes however it has never had access to electricity. The 27 children that depend on this space are lucky if they receive sporadic energy from a generator. For LUTW this is a very concerning situation where children from an early age are considering regular generator usage as normal practice. After an evaluation, 550W of photovoltaic power, a battery bank of 480Ah, and an inverter of 1200W were designated for the pre-school, which will easily energize the electrical equipment needed such as: laptops, printers, cell phones, radios, a television, lights, projectors and projectors.

Cucuasa Primary School

The primary school currently hosts 65 students and has a strong infrastructure made up of cement and wood. Due to the nature of the climate, its roofs are made of corrugated iron, with a simple water drainage system because of frequent rainfall in the area. The primary school already had a wired electrical system that was put in place many years ago but with time and weather conditions had deteriorated to the point of rendering it useless. The students of this school face many obstacles that stand in the way of their studies and electricity should no longer be one of them. With the Covid pandemic came a push for tablets and the ability to remote learn, even in these areas. This school was a participant in receiving State funded tablets that until LUTW came, were deemed useless without the ability to charge them.

According to the initial evaluation of the primary schoo, the school met the criteria to house a system of 1300W of photovoltaic power, consisting of a 4 module arrangement of 325W, each established by an evaluation of the solar resources available in the area. A 960Ah battery bank offers the capacity to absorb and store the energy necessary to power the school for more than 2 days without having received any energy from the solar modules. Using the normal electricity consumption patterns established for the school, a 2000W pure sine wave inverter was chosen. This provides high quality alternating current (the same or better quality than the electrical grid) with the capacity necessary to energize the equipment evaluated in the school without damaging them. This 1300W system became a standard model for primary schools and high schools, due to the fact that they share very similar energy consumption patterns in this area of the Peruvian Amazon.

Cucuasa High School

The last school installation LUTW completed in Cucuasa was their high school. This educational institution was built four decades ago but the community had maintained the infrastructure of the property. The buildings material structure was interesting, on in which the principles office and 3 classrooms were constructed with concrete and one classroom constructed with wood. The high school’s power needs was determined to be a system of 1300W of solar power, identical to the model used for their primary schools. This school stretched over 100m and had over 7 classrooms between its point of power generation and the last point it needed to reach. This situation generated a design challenge to guarantee the quality of energy remained through to to the furthest point of the installation. Days after the installation, an energy consumption and quality analysis test confirmed that our team made the right design choices to ensure the most efficient use of the system. The community and LUTW team were proud of the work we did. 

LUTW is aware of systems previously installed in remote communities that end up failing prematurely due to misuse, whether it be intentional or not. Therefore, LUTW considers it extremely important to correctly train the users of the solar systems to promote system durability, and responsible energy consumption throughout the community. The community of Cucuasa now has three schools energized with an off-grid power generation system and is on the path towards improving their education quality.

ACKNOWLEDGMENT

LUTW would like to thank all the people and entities that directly and indirectly supported the development of these three projects in Cucuasa. We appreciate our partnership with DirecTV and our shared mission to light up the Peruvian Amazon and bring connectivity to these areas. Thank you Mr. Pancho Pujupat, leader of the Cucuasa community, Ms. Nathaly Vilchez, high school coordinator, and the community that was collaboratively involved in LUTW’s work in Cucuasa.

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. 

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