Archive for January, 2019

An Electrical Room With A View

This is the latest report from Northwest Renewables’ solar project manager Grant Neely, who is currently loaned to U.S. nonprofit Twende Solar to bring electricity to the Peruvian village of Mushuk Llamas, in the Amazon jungle.

Mushuk Llamas, Peru – The villagers are thrilled to see us build their solar power system. However, an unanticipated concern arose: how to keep the electrical gear and DC connections out of reach of the village children, to prevent shocks and injury? Being constantly surrounded here by kids getting into all sorts of mischief, we immediately understood the worry and got to work thinking of ways to enclose the batteries, inverter, combiner, charge controller and wires beneath the array. 

“Do you have any lumber?” we asked. The village chief answered with a wave at the forest; there was plenty of lumber, he said, and, by law, only the Mushuk are allowed to cut it.

Sure enough, the next morning a Mushuk man with a big chainsaw appeared, selected a nearby tall tree, then felled and milled it on the spot, sawing long, straight boards and posts from the rich hardwood; the strongest, prettiest wood I’ve ever worked with — material you’d only see back home sculpted and polished into high-end furniture or jewelry boxes. 

“Wow,” said one solar pro. “This’ll be the world’s most expensive wiring back-board!”

Beautiful it was indeed. We added foundation and walls, and soon the child-resistant electrical shed with its power-generating roof array was finished. Everything beyond the shed would be safer, usable AC electricity, with circuits to the community center, nurses station, community kitchen, and even to two floodlights for the small village soccer field.

Almost every new and unusual solar project brings an unexpected challenge at some point. This one turned out to be a very cool learning experience for all of us!

You can support the Mushuk Llamas Project with a tax-deductible donation at twendesolar.org/grant.

On the Way to Electrify a Village in Peru

Here is the latest installment by our intrepid project manager Grant Neely, whom we loaned to Twende, a non-profit organization that brings electricity to small and developing communities across the world. Grant is now in Peru’s Amazon Basin, working with other solar professionals to install a solar-and-battery system in the isolated indigenous village of Mushuk Llamas.


Grant Neely, Our Man in Peru

Terapoto, Peru – Our team met two days ago in dry, coastal Lima then flew 250 miles north over the Andes and down here to this hub of San Martín Province, on the range’s damp, tropical side, where the solar equipment and supplies we shipped from the States awaited us.

The landscape here is verdant, bird-filled rainforest; jungle waterfall country where streams tumble from the hills, flowing into dozens of rivers that feed the Amazon. After packing our trucks, we’ll drive fifteen miles down the gorge of the Rio Huallaga to meet village leaders and start packing our solar components and supplies up mountain trails to Mushuk Llamas. Then the important work begins, building a power system!

Our team leaders have worked closely to understand the needs of the Mushuk Llamas community, designing a system that will bring the village lights, Internet access, and refrigeration for food and medicine for the first time. Children will be able to study at night; a small-scale coffee bean processing operation will become more productive; online education will become an active learning tool for everyone in the village.

Children of Mushuk Llamas

I always knew I wanted to work in remote places bringing solar power to people who need it most, so this is an incredibly exciting opportunity to make a big difference for this small village of indigenous Peruvians in the Amazon Basin.

As we see it, working in the solar industry brings an obligation to practice what we preach, using our skills to improve lives and to spread a technology that helps combat climate change every day. Northwest Renewables’ support for this Peru mission is an important step towards our active collaboration with local and regional partners, as well as to our industry’s commitment to renewable energy and its importance to our global family. 

Grant with Katie Martin of Imagine Energy and Zach Sippel of The Energy Trust of Oregon, enroute to Mushuk Llamas

For now, we’re into the project and out of touch for the next two weeks. I’ll post if I get back to Tarapoto for supplies in the meantime. Hasta luego!


You can support the Mushuk Llamas Project with a tax-deductible donation at twendesolar.org/grant.