Green Energy for Mexican Villages

Lack of energy services is directly correlated with food insecurity, low education levels, restriction of economic opportunity, and social conflict. The provision of reliable, low cost energy to remote and rural areas that currently lack power is one of the most transformative actions that can be taken to benefit the world’s under-served communities.

We are working with volunteer scientists from Environmental Resources Management (ERM) in Mexico City to develop and test a multi-criteria decision support tool that can be used to evaluate and recommend sustainable energy development alternatives for small, non-electrified communities, and to construct small-scale sustainable energy projects in remote indigenous villages of Oaxaca, Mexico. The decision support tool can be used to determine the best strategy for developing a reliable, environmentally-sensitive supply of energy for small, rural, and remote indigenous communities based on the social, economic, regulatory, technical, and environmental factors that are unique to each community. We refer to the tool as Providing Indigenous Communities Access to Sustainable Energy, or PICASE.

We plan to apply PICASE to a one or more indigenous communities of Oaxaca, Mexico as a case example, evaluating trade-offs and recommending the most appropriate and economical energy supply systems, based upon local conditions and what community members want for themselves. The energy projects are expected to consist of a mix of solar, small hydro-power, and/or biomass conversion, as appropriate for the landscape, climate, and social settings for each location.

Once PICASE has been tested and refined, we expect it to have broad utility and provide a means for evaluating the energy needs of under-served communities throughout the Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) region and the world to achieve self-sufficiency in energy production.

Our planned start-up project is broken into two phases. Phase 1 includes the following actions:

  • Develop the decision support tool (PICASE)
  • Conduct a GIS-based evaluation of state-wide physical, environmental, and social factors to determine the efficacy of different sustainable energy supply alternatives for IC;
  • Select one or more local indigenous communities for more detailed analysis;
  • Perform field investigations to evaluate the suitability of specific sites for implementing recommended energy alternatives;
  • Iteratively refine and apply PICASE to improve its utility, and
  • Make final recommendations and develop a blueprint for developing a sustainable energy supply for local indigenous communities.

Phase 2 will include the actual construction of energy projects and electricity transmission systems, as well as monitoring, evaluation, and documentation of the relative success of PICASE and the constructed energy systems.