EMPOWERMENT THROUGH SOLAR ELECTRICITY
LAS CUCHILLAS - SOLAR SCHOOL AND LIBRARY PROJECT
On April 15, 2010 Power to the People successfully installed a 680W photovoltaic system, using Schuco modules and racking, on a rural 2-room school and a 225W PV battery charging station on a small library in a community on the island of Ometepe. Surrounded by beautiful island culture and ambiance, Las Cuchillas was the last community on the island without electricity due to its remote location on Volcan Maderas. The installation of solar electricity on this school and library has not only brought lights and power to these classrooms, it will give the community a place to study at night, recharge cell phones, and charge car batteries that provide power to the houses in the village - improving the quality of life for the residents of Las Cuchillas and surrounding communities and creating a revenue stream for the school.
Ometepe, one of the most beautiful places in Nicaragua, is an island with two volcanos (one of which is active) in the middle of Lake Nicaragua. The Lake is over 3,000 square miles wide and is know for being the only lake in the world to have fresh water sharks. The island of Ometepe is primarily home to 42,000 residents but has many accommodations for tourists who want to climb the volcano, go boating in the lake, enjoy the natural mineral springs, or just relax in one of the many farm-style hotels geared towards tourists seeking a relaxing time away from city life.
Las Cuchillas is located on the side of Volcan Maderas on the island of Ometepe. It is home to approximately 500 people who earn their living by farming or finding work in nearby towns. This children in Las Cuchillas attend the 2-room primary school in town situated on a piece of property with a swing set, 3 latrines, and a small library. The children go to class in the morning and the community is not able to use the school or the classroom at night since there is no electric power in either of the three buildings. The installation of the PV modules on these buildings will give the school children and teachers access to power during the day, to power lights, fans, stereos, TVs with educational videos, and laptops in the future. And, since the PV system is battery-based, the community can offer classes in the evening to adults to address the high level of illiteracy in the area.
In addition to lights and power at the school, the solar system will allow community members to recharge their cell phones, increasing access to communication and saving people time from having to walk to another town to recharge their phones.In addition, several people in the community have old car batteries that they carry to nearby towns to charge so they can have light in their house at night. These batteries are very heavy and usually contain harmful chemicals and acids. The solar system that Power to the People installed on the school and library was designed to allow people from the community to recharge their car or boat batteries in the community which they use at home to power lights and small appliances, saving them time and reducing the danger from battery spills. The addition of the phone and battery charging station will create an opportunity for the community to charge a small fee for these services creating a fund that can be used to purchase distilled water for the batteries, light bulbs, and other items necessary for system maintenance.
Thanks to Scott Estep, a Peace Corps volunteer near Las Cuchillas, for his support with this project!
For more photos of the project, please click here.
Watch our film about the Las Cuchillas installation.
Painted mushrooms for sale in Catarina
Truck stopped on road
Community volunteers moving modules
SPECIAL THANKS TO OUR SPONSORS OF THIS PROJECT:
PHOTOS OF LAS CUCHILLAS
Island of Ometepe
Las Cuchillas school PV system
P2TP Volunteer wiring in outlet