Group Seeks to Bring Power to Rural Latin America

Enersol Associates, a non-profit group based in Massachusetts has been exploring the idea of using small solar arrays to bring computers to rural schools in developing countries through their EduSol program.

Chelmsford, Massachusetts – November 19, 2002 [] The computers could be used for basic keyboard and mouse instruction, familiarization with computer programs, educational CD-ROM games (in Spanish) and as a reference resource. Where feasible, the computers will be connected to the Internet. The rural areas in which Enersol works are not served by conventional wired telephone networks. In the Dominican Republic, Enersol has enabled three schools to link with a Very Small Aperture Terminal (VSAT) that provides Internet access through a satellite link. High-speed Internet access is provided over a solar-powered radio air link. This networking technology requires line-of-sight to establish communication between the radios at the schools, so a solar-powered repeater has been installed at a midway distance between each school and the VSAT. This unique network was funded by a grant from the Global Catalyst Foundation. Enersol said it has received many requests for EduSol projects. For example, one community in the Dominican Republic that has requested to work with Enersol is Sabana al Medio in the northwest area of the country, a town where according to the last census, 94.7 percent of the households lack electricity. The parents of Sabana al Medio have been extremely proactive to ensure this educational opportunity for their children. They have approached the Regional Department of Education and have obtained a small new building which houses a community center and room specified for computers and training. A community committee has been formed to lead the one hundred eleven families who together opened a bank account and have begun to capitalize a fund account to maintain and manage the EduSol project after installation and training. Enersol is currently seeking funding to meet the needs of this and a number of other communities expressing interest in the EduSol Program. Enersol’s mission is to bring solar energy solutions to people living in un-electrified areas of Latin American countries with a focus on high impact social applications of solar technology.
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