Renewable energy for an isolated rural community in Honduras

Installation of a microgrid for renewable energy, combining a 52kWp solar photovoltaic plant and a 25kW biomass gasification system. The community of El Santuario will begin powering itself with renewable sources such as sun and wood from forest management.

  • Initiative promoted by the Polytechnic University of Valencia (UPV) and financed by the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID)
  • The Valencian companies Genia Global Energy and Monsolar will install the renewable energy microgrid to power the isolated rural community, and to serve as an example for other areas.

The aim of the project is to supply the small rural community of El Santuarios in the department of Choluteca (Honduras), which is isolated from the electrical grid, with reliable and clean energy. The community is located in the middle of the Central American Dry Corridor, one of the areas most exposed to extreme weather phenomena (great droughts alternating with torrential rains), where 3.5 million people live under conditions of humanitarian risk, 40% of whom are located in Honduras (FAO, 2016). It is funded by the AECID (Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation), with contributions from other NGOs, the UPV (Polytechnic University of Valencia) and the Valencian companies Genia Global Energy and Monsolar. 

The UPV has designed a renewable energy microgrid that combines a solar photovoltaic system and a biomass gasification system to supply enough clean energy for the household and agricultural needs of the 500 inhabitants of the community.

The project, which has just started, will leave a fully operational electrical system in El Santuario in early 2022 and will serve as an example for its replication and scalability in other isolated rural communities.

The Valencian companies Genia Global Energy and Monsolar will be in charge of installing a 52kWp photovoltaic solar plant and a biomass gasifier with the capacity to produce 25kW of electricity, as well as the network and all of the elements necessary for its management. Once the system is implemented, El Santuario will begin powering itself exclusively using renewable sources such as the sun and remnant pine oak wood from forest management, thus reducing the emission from polluting gases from firewood and diesel generators into the atmosphere.

The project seeks, in addition to meeting the needs of local homes, to supply lighting in common spaces, especially the school, and to allow new production processes by enabling the refrigeration of food and its processing  with machinery. In this way, access to energy is promoted as a basic good, and economic development is promoted, as well as access to new sources of information as a key element for the educational training of the inhabitants.

The use of biomass to generate gas will stop the consumption of wood as the main source of fuel. Between 10 and 20 kg is burned a day per household, which would end up causing deforestation and health problems for the inhabitants.

The project, which has just begun, will leave a fully operative electrical system in El Santuarios in early 2022 and will serve as an example for its replication and scalability in other isolated rural communities.