Rio develops solar resources to meet energy demand

Latin America

Neighbors in one of Rio de Janeiro’s slums are fighting back against soaring electricity prices with a solar energy project. It was developed by a nonprofit organization with ambitious dreams of providing cheap energy to Rio’s poor communities.

Lucrecia Franco reports. 

Solar panels were installed just two months ago on the roof of a lodge in the Babilonia favela-a hillside slum that overlooks Rio’s famous Copacabana beach.

Pol Dhuyvetter, a Belgian who moved to Brazil seven years ago, is the owner of the lodge and the founder of a nonprofit organization aimed to promote the use of solar electricity.

“What we needed to do first is to show it. I mean, it’s very clear in favelas with lower education levels that people need to see to believe it,” Dhuyvetter said.

With only six panels he cut his electricity bill in half. Through a micro-credit program for favela residents, he estimates the investment can be paid in six years. After that the solar power will be free.

It’s a cost-effective solution for people who’ve seen the cost of electricity double in the past two years. It could also help avoid illegal and dangerous connections, that are common in most of Rio’s favelas.

This project is not only about cutting electricity costs in a poor communities, but also to educate people about the long-term benefits of solar energy.

“What we are doing now is bringing this technology closer to the people in the favela so that they realize it is accessible to them.” Dhuyvetter said.

Another hostel in the favela is also going solar. Rio has roughly a thousand of these desperately poor neighborhoods. The goal is to convert all of them to renewable energy.

Global investment in solar energy technologies from 2004 to 2015 (in billion U.S. dollars)

This statistic represents global investment in solar energy technologies between 2004 and 2015. In 2013, global investment in this field came to a little under 120 billion U.S. dollars. Europe, China and the United States are the main investors in this area. In 2015, some 67.44 billion U.S. dollars were invested into small-scale solar systems and 94 billion U.S. dollars into utility-scale systems. However, it must be noted that different entities may utilize varying minimal thresholds for the definition of utility-scale, which has been found to range from 5 to 50 megawatts. As of February 2015, one of the largest solar photovoltaic power plants, the Gujarat, is located in India and has a capacity of 856.8 megawatts.

The largest producers of CO2 emissions worldwide in 2015, based on their share of global CO2 emissions

The statistic reflects the largest producers of energy-related carbon dioxide emissions in 2015, based on their share of global energy-related CO2 emissions. China was the biggest emitter of carbon dioxide; the country accounted for around 28.03 percent of global CO2 emissions that year. In 2014, the largest CO2 producers included the United States and the four members of the BRIC countries. Brazil, Russia, India and China were all ranked among the five largest emitters, with China taking the top spot. Fifth-ranked United States was also listed as one of the biggest polluters worldwide in per capita terms in 2013.