Solar Energy Projects Lower Bills In Rio De Janeiro Favelas
Faizan Hashmi Published April 27, 2022 | 01:08 PM
In a hillside slum with breathtaking views of Rio de Janeiro's famed Copacabana beach, a rooftop covered in photovoltaic panels glitters in the tropical sun -- one of many in Brazil's first favela solar energy project
Rio de Janeiro, (APP - UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 27th Apr, 2022 ) :In a hillside slum with breathtaking views of Rio de Janeiro's famed Copacabana beach, a rooftop covered in photovoltaic panels glitters in the tropical sun -- one of many in Brazil's first favela solar energy project.
The solar panels on the roof of a community organization in the Babilonia favela take one thing the impoverished neighborhood has in abundance -- sunshine -- and use it to lower electricity bills while expanding renewable power sources.
Another 44 panels are installed atop private businesses, including a local hostel, which also receive discounts as part of the co-op.
"More and more residents are coming to us with complaints about their light bills -- sometimes 600 reais ($125) a month or more.
We're using that to raise awareness about the importance of solar energy for the economy and the environment," says the 45-year-old Italian, who moved to Rio a decade ago and now lives in Chapeu Mangueira -- the favela next to Babilonia, which also takes part in the co-op.
The project was launched last June by community leaders and a non-profit organization called Revolusolar.
It comes at a critical moment for favela residents struggling to pay their bills. The average electricity price for residential customers in Brazil is expected to increase by 21 percent this year, after rising seven percent last year, according to the National Electric Energy Agency (ANEEL).
Marcia Campos, a 51-year-old social worker who lives in Babilonia, says that before joining the solar co-op she was struggling to pay her electricity bill, which had risen to nearly 500 reais a month -- around half the Brazilian monthly minimum wage.
"Now, my (bill) is around 260 reais a month, sometimes as low as 180" in especially sunny months, she told AFP.
Last year, two key hydroelectricity producing regions in Brazil were hit by their worst drought in nearly a century, shrinking the rivers that feed dams producing nearly 60 percent of the country's electricity supply.
That sent authorities scrambling to fire up costlier thermal power plants to compensate.
But clean-energy proponents say renewable power sources are a better option for the economy and the environment.
In the favelas, solar is also an alternative to dangerous, clandestine electricity connections known as "gatos," which residents use to illegally wire their homes into the grid.
Brazil currently gets just 1.8 percent of its energy consumption from solar.
But residential solar-energy production from projects like the one in Babilonia "is growing very fast," says Carlos Aparecido, a professor of electrical engineering at Rio de Janeiro State University.
In Vidigal, another iconic favela with breathtaking views of Rio's coastline, a community organization called Ser Alzira launched a solar panel project in December, using a co-op model similar to the one in Babilonia.
"We really needed it," says Elma de Aleluia, the organization's founder, who purchased the panels with the help of donations from the private sector.