Peru may be best known for Machu Picchu and other Incan and Aztec treasures, but the nation is looking to its future with new plans to use solar to provide electricity for about 2 million of its poorest residents by the end of 2016. Considering that Peru is the third largest county in South America and has a population of 24 million that’s bringing solar power to roughly 10 percent of its population.
The country, which is the world’s second largest exporter of copper, is experiencing strong demand for new electric generation to support its mining and other operations. As such, it needs to add 500 megawatts of new electric generation annually for the next few years. In all it plans to add in 2.1 gigawatts of new electric generation. The solar being installed will only be a part of the larger target, which includes hydro-electric and gas-fired electric generating power plants. The country, according to Merino, will add in 1 gigawatt of hydro-electric, 800 megawatts of gas-diesel power plants and 300 megawatts of renewable energy.
When completed, “The National Photovoltaic Household Electrification Program” and other programs will allow 95 percent of Peru’s population access to electricity. While that’s not everyone, it’s a pretty high percentage of the population and it’s a rapid ramp up. Right now, about 66 percent of the country’s population has access to electricity in the mountain-rich country.
“This program is aimed at the poorest people, those who lack access to electric lighting and still use oil lamps, spending their own resources to pay for fuels that harm their health,” said Peru Energy and Mining Minister Jorge Merino.
Under the first phase of the program 500,000 homes will get access to power from roughly 12,500 PV arrays, and is expected to cost $200 million, which is only part of the $3 billion that Peru plans to spend on new electric generation.
By bringing access to electricity throughout so much of the country, this could help propel its economy and help more of its citizens get access to health services, refrigeration, water filtering and more. It can also bring more of Peru's rural areas out of poverty. After all, the United Nations Development Programme's 2012 Human Development Index reports that about half of its people are poor and 20 percent of its people are considered extremely poor.
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