Belize is located in Central America, south of Mexico. The country is about the size of Hesse, but has only about half the population of Frankfurt am Main. Many villages are located in mountainous regions that are difficult to access. Their residents will not have access to the power grid in the foreseeable future either.
In its national development strategy, the Government of Belize has set a goal of achieving universal access to electricity by 2030. Many villages are remote and difficult to reach. Expansion of the national power grid would be time-consuming and costly.
Together with Solar Energy Solutions Belize Ltd. and ZENNA AG, the cdw Foundation has already demonstrated the technical and economic feasibility of a decentralised approach. The Smart Solar Off-Grid model involves the development of a decentralised power supply based on renewable energies. Since 2017, the first smart solar off-grid system has been successfully supplying electricity to the village of La Gracia. Building on the experience of the pilot, the model will be replicated at another site in southern Belize in 2021.
In Belize, about 10,000 people still do not have access to electricity. In exchange with the European Union, the Energy Unit was founded in 2012. This is part of the Ministry of Energy and aims, among other things, to supply remote villages with electricity using off-grid systems based on renewable energies.
Belize has little experience with renewable village power systems to date. The solar off-grid approach can help the country achieve its development goals. In addition to building the skills needed for installation, commissioning and maintenance, the country also aims to revise the legal framework regarding the licensing of such off-grid projects and the tariffing to be applied.
The community of Corazon Creek is remotely located amidst a difficult to access hilly landscape in the southern Toledo District of Belize. The almost 300 inhabitants of the village belong predominantly to the indigenous Mayan people. In addition to an elementary school, there is also a secondary school in the municipality, which is attended during the week by more than 300 students also from the 15 surrounding municipalities.
The national power grid is 13 km away. Since the village can only be reached via an unpaved gravel road, the expansion of the power grid would be complex and cost-intensive. As a result, the Department of Energy, the national electric utility, and the cdw Foundation selected Corazon Creek as the site for replicating the solar off-grid model.
On behalf of the cdw Foundation, Solar Energy Solutions Belize Ltd. has developed a solar power generation system for the community of Corazon Creek. This will be handed over to the Ministry of Energy after installation. The national utility Belize Electricity Limited is responsible for the distribution of electricity in the village.