Around 1.4 billion people in the world have no access to electricity but Engineers Without Borders UK has been involved in a project to give the people of Playa Blanca an independent, energised future.
Peru has one of the lowest rural electrification rates in Latin America. Considerable efforts have been made to extend Peru’s national grid as part of the country’s ten-year plan to increase rural electrification from 35% to 70% between 2008 and 2017.
Despite these efforts, the ambitious goal of extending the electricity grid to over two million people over the next five years is unlikely to be reached. In rural areas, accounting for 85% of the population of Peru, more than six million people lack access to electricity (ACCIONA).
Playa Blanca is a small, coastal desert town in Northern Peru. Home to over 60 families, this fishing town unable to access the electricity grid, both because of the town’s remoteness and the steep price of electricity – this creates a big need for a sustainable solution.
Playa Blanca’s proximity to the coast means that there is plenty of wind that they could use to generate electricity in a clean and sustainable way.
Our partner organisation, WindAid, is working to provide each family in Playa Blanca with its own electricity supply, by installing a small household wind turbines and networks of regional hubs.
During 2015, a team from the Engineers Without Borders UK branch at University College London undertook a member led partnership project with WindAid. Our volunteers went out to Peru and assisted in the purpose built The Playa Blanca Wind Workshop. The eco-friendly work space will create all of its own energy through wind turbines and solar panels.
Our volunteers provided WindAid with the technical data necessary to make a decision on the next phase of the project. In time, the Wind Workshop will help WindAid reach their goal for Playa Blanca, to provide each house with a small autonomous wind turbine – they currently have 15 in place but plan to build at least 40.
Providing Playa Blanca with reliable access to electricity will allow the community to grow and expand. The area has a particular appeal for surfers and the community hopes that access to electricity will provide facilities suitable for starting a tourist industry.
This member-led partnership project, enabled Engineers Without Borders UK to partner organisations, people and communities, to use and develop their engineering capability to address global challenges. With your amazing donations we can continue to improve the lives of millions of people, such as the families of Playa Blanca, through sustainable methods.