Renewable energy led by communities
06 September 2012 | Article
In Guatemala where the construction of hydroelectric dams is a big issue, Fundacion Solar, an IUCN Member, is sharing its ideas and experience of developing small-scale renewable energy sources involving local communities.
Fundación Solar is looking to promote the use of renewable energy and how to capitalize on environmental services as well as develop policies regarding the environment and natural resources in Guatemala. It has recently built three small hydroelectric dams, one of them in Batzchocolá, a small rural community in the Quiché department which has no electricity.
The village is home to 55 families, a school and a health care centre. Technical help has been given to the community to build and operate a 35 kW hydro electrical plant of the 'run of the river' type. Villagers have pledged to protect the water source and plant trees to avoid erosion.
Carmen Raquel Torselli, a member of Fundación Solar, highlights the importance of this initiative when Guatemala faces the opposition of many communities to the construction of big dams. She believes the Congress is a great opportunity to exchange experiences with many other countries that face similar problems.
Juan Mario Dary Fuentes, former Minister of Environment of Guatemala says that IUCN provides a platform to discuss real problems. “From the first congress, when discussions were more romantic, today we talk about vital issues like energy production, industry, economic valuation of ecosystem services, the private sector’s role in conservation, and much more.”