Power from the Favela: the 1st solar cooperative in a Brazil's favela
Revolusolar is a non-profit organization that has worked since 2015 in Rio's favelas. We promote the sustainable development of low-income communities through solar energy installations, job training and children's workshops. We seek to create a new, affordable and community-based energy model with environmental, social and economic impacts.
Since 2015, we have installed 3 solar plants and have trained 31 local residents as electricians and solar installers in the Babilônia favela. We are now implementing the "community solar" model (through cooperatives) in a partnership with the favelas Babilônia and Chapéu Mangueira.
Contrary to widespread beliefs, a 2017 Revolusolar survey of residents of Babilônia showed us that the majority of the energy connections do not come from clandestine connections. The residents pay dearly for the energy they use and their electricity bill is up-to-date. Still, power outages on the favelas are frequent and service is slow and inadequate.
Eighty percent of favela workers are self-employed and have lost their income due to the COVID-19 crisis. In this context, Revolusolar has been working with these communities to provide emergency assistance through the distribution of basic food baskets, hygiene items and medicines, among other actions.
Our goal now is to build long-term structural solutions that guarantee the sustainable development of the community and promote greater autonomy for local residents.
THE 1st SOLAR ENERGY COOPERATIVE IN A FAVELA
The shared energy generation model (community solar) is, in technical and economical terms, a better solution than individual installations and reflects the traditions of collective action in Rio's favelas, whose history is one of cooperation, self-management and collective efforts.
The pilot project will consist of a 26 kWp solar photovoltaic energy system installed ) on the Residents' Association rooftop (177 m2). The power generated will benefit at least 30 local families with cheaper energy bills. Other residents will also benefit from this initiative through our Solar Cycle methodology (installations + job training + children workshops).
Once the solar plant starts generating energy, the residents' electricity bills will be reduced due to the energy credits generated by the solar panels. Part of their savings will be redirected to a Community Fund, from which the local workers will be paid. This fund will also contribute to the financing of new installations and consequently, provide solar energy to more families in the community. The electricians and solar installers from the community, trained by Revolusolar, will carry out the installations and provide the maintenance of the solar plant.
We will continue offering professional courses to train electricians and solar installers to foster cooperation and work within the community. We also plan to carry on our children's workshops about sustainability and renewable energy in the favela. Eduardo Avila, Revolusolar's executive director, has been selected global finalist in UN Environment "Young Champions of the Earth 2020" with this solar cooperative project.
Additional support needed
I) Fundraising plan and connections:
- 1st: grants;
- 2nd: as the Community Fund’s resources increase, phase out of grants in favor of sustainable investments ESG.
- introduce our project to possible donors to fund its expansion to other Communities.
II) Agile project management / lean startup.