Clean energy for the isolated communities in Honduras

Mario Honrubiaclean energytraditional fishinghonduraselectricity

In 2021, simple gestures like switching on the light, charging a phone, or turning on the radio will still be a utopia in thousands of homes around the world. Today, we are going to visit Honduras to talk to you about the importance of clean energy and the projects we are working on to fight energy poverty in over 5,700 Miskito, Garifuna, and Tolupan families. 

Clean energy: What this type of energy really is.

Before we begin, let’s explain some concepts related to this kind of energy that may be confusing for some. When we talk about clean energy, we are talking about the energy that does not emit gases or pollutes in any way. Or, if it produces emissions, are climate neutral. 

We should not mistake clean energy with renewable energy. Renewable energy is obtained from unlimited resources. However, these two requirements are not always met. The following examples are a straightforward way to explain it: 

  • Solar and wind energy come from unlimited resources, therefore they are renewable and clean energies.
  • Biomass is renewable because it comes from organic waste. However, it is not clean energy because it emits polluting gases like carbon dioxide or nitrogen oxide during the burning process.

Why is clean energy important?

Changing our energy production and consumption patterns is crucial to ensure the environmental and economic sustainability of the different communities and the land around them. For this reason, a Sustainable Development Goal was exclusively created with this purpose: ensure universal access to an affordable, trustworthy, sustainable, and modern.

Easy access to clean energy: The Honduras Challenge

In many parts of the world, access to energy in general, and clean energy in particular, is still a work in progress.

In Latin America, over 300 million people do not have electricity. Honduras is one of the countries with the most difficulties. Did you know people cannot turn on the light in 19% of their homes?

19 % of homes in Honduras do not have access to electricity. Here is how Ayuda en Acción is bringing clean energy to the Tolupan families. CLICK TO TWEET

This is how we bring clean energy to Tolupan families

In order to reduce the energy poverty of the indigenous Tolupan communities of the towns of  Victoria and Sulaco, in Yoro, we started the project Corylus. People live in isolated rural areas where access to food, education, drinking water, or healthcare services is very difficult.

This project, together with FUNACH and funding from Energía sin Fronteras, had the goal of electrifying the houses with self-installable photovoltaic solar panels. As Elder Flores, project coordinator, explained, “their structure is light and simple, so with just one 4-hour training session, families will learn to install them, use them, and maintain them in their homes”.

This project is about more than electricity

  • It reduces the use of traditional energy sources like ocote, wood, kerosene, or candles, which has a positive impact on the health of the families (smoke causes respiratory diseases) and deforestation slows down.
  • It helps the economy of the families:  the economic savings equals seven years of purchasing traditional energy services, and it will translate into the enhancement of productive activities that require the use of light.
  • It increases safety: people will not have to walk up to 40 km to obtain traditional fuels. 
  • It improves the preparation against any possible emergency: having power means having access to mobile phones and radios to a rapid response.

A new project related to traditional fishing and the importance of cold and the power source

Traditional fishing in the MAMUGAH region ensures food for the families of the area and it is the biggest source of income. More specifically, it provides sustenance to 5,000 families, most of them belonging to the Garifuna and Miskito ethnicities. 1,600 of these families are fishermen.

The initial economic situation is precarious, with a 60% poverty rate. Local families cannot meet their basic needs and are exposed to multiple climate threats.

AeA is working jointly with the public institutions, fishing companies, and fishermen’s associations on the management of the fishing chain. More recently, they have reached an investment agreement with a private company at the seafood processing plant in the village of Santa Fe 

The fishing is artisanal, using small boats, some with small engines and others with rows, always within 3 nautical miles from the coast.

Given the high temperatures of the area, the fishing and transportation time, and the low capacity for cold storage on the boats, the fish does not always arrive in the best of conditions at the processing plant in Santa Fe.

AeA and ennomotive, through their SocialSolver platform, have launched a challenge to design a preservation system for the fish that works continuously from the moment the fish is caught to the moment the fish arrives at the processing plant.

The idea for the solution is to use renewable energy sources to generate cold. However, in order to make it sustainable with the fishing activities, adapt it to the region, minimize the costs and the environmental impact, and, if possible, help with the electrification of the boats for night fishing, thus increasing the productivity.

As we mentioned at the beginning of the article, clean energies are vital to achieving sustainable development on the planet. We will continue to work in Honduras and other countries to ensure affordable, trustworthy, sustainable, and modern access to clean energy for everybody!