Solar panels bring affordable energy to Rio’s favelas

Global Business

Solar panels bring affordable energy to Rio's favelas2

Brazil is another Latin American economy facing deep recession. But the country is now working to diversify its energy sources, to avoid that power crisis. 

Solar panels are now bringing more dependable and affordable electricity to the country’s poorest communities.

CCTV’s Paulo Cabral reports on a social startup is behind the idea.

Solar panels bring affordable energy to Rio\'s favelas

Solar panels bring affordable energy to Rio\'s favelas

Solar panels are now bringing more dependable and affordable electricity to Brazil's poorest communities. CCTV's Paulo Cabral reports on a social startup is behind the idea.

Sixty children spend their days in a community nursery built high up in Rio de Janeiro’s Santa Marta slum.

Recently it was selected to receive solar panels in a pilot project to spread use of solar energy in poor communities.

Hopes here are that the green technology will provide consistent, reliable power, and do it affordably.

“We don’t get enough energy here. For example, we can’t use two electric showers at the same time or the whole electricity drops down. So, we have to shower one child at a time. And on top of that electricity bills are very high. So we have accepted to have the solar panels to reduce our bills,” Marcia Souza with the Mundo Infantil Nursery said.

Nearly one and a half million people live in Rio’s slums. Most of them cope with undependable public services like water, sewage and electricity. Finding local solutions could be one way to improve and reduce the cost of these basic services for people here.

The social startup responsible for the project sees it also as a way of giving visibility to solar energy technologies.

“The idea of merging clean energy generation, solar energy generation with social impact for us is very important. And it helps both sides: from one side the community is helping to promote the technology, on the other side the technology is helping the community to reduce energy bills and bring attention, bring tourism to the community. Santa Marta is a very touristic community,” Henrique Drummond CEO of Insolar said.

Tourists come to Santa Marta so see the spot where Michael Jackson recorded the video of “They Don’t Care About Us” in 1996.

A statue of the singer now stands on the roof where he performed.

On the ground floor, just below Michael’s roof, Robespierre Avila runs an NGO to teach music and arts to the local youth. He’s hoping to get solar panels, too.

Much needs to be done to improve living conditions in Rio’s slums. Providing a sustainable and stable source of energy is an important step.