Private Sector Financed Community Solar Microgrids and Agricultural Accelerators

Innovator (Country of Incorporation): 
Guatemala
Collaborators: 
Development Ventures (United States)
Greenergyze S.A. (Guatemala)
Location Applied: 
Innovation Stage: 
Clean Energy Source: 
Agricultural Focus: 
Product Segment: 
Year of Award: 
Organization: 

The Universidad del Valle de Guatemala (University of the Valley of Guatemala (UVG)) is a private, not-for-profit, secular university located in Guatemala City, Guatemala. Founded in 1966 by a private foundation, it was the first private university in Guatemala to give a strong emphasis to technology. UVG has partnered with Development Ventures and Greenergyze, S.A. Development Ventures will serve as the technical lead on financial infrastructure activities. Greenergyze will lead the physical infrastructure activities.

Problem/Opportunity: 

Small-scale producers from low-income agricultural communities Guatemala are among the most vulnerable actors in agricultural value-chains across the country. Suitable technologies, including irrigation systems and cold storage facilities, are readily available in Guatemala, however, there are three main constraints preventing producers from accessing them: lack of affordable clean energy to power facilities; lack of affordable finance for investment in clean energy power generation; and lack of skilled service providers who can sustainably operate services at a price-point affordable to producers.

Clean Energy Solution: 

UVG uses an innovative approach to developing low-cost utility companies in agricultural communities in Guatemala that are not connected to the grid, called Comonsol Cellular Utilities. Each Comonsol Utility will consist of a localized mini-grid operated by a local service provider company that also provides agribusiness service. This “utility in a box” approach is designed so private sector financing can be used to fund the establishment of new utilities, making this clean energy solution scalable in low-income agricultural communities in Guatemala without additional donor funding. The project will facilitate investment into one agricultural community in Guatemala to power agricultural production/processing equipment for coffee producing communities’ application.

Impact: 

The project will facilitate investment into one agricultural community in Guatemala to power agricultural production/ processing equipment for coffee producing communities.

Progress Update: 

UVG’s primary technology partner, Development Ventures, completed the design of a complete plug-n-play microgrid solution for developing an ‘bankable’ mini-grid. This solution includes all the operational, legal and technical processes to establish a utility scale power supply. UVG and its partner are currently in the process of finalizing the legal planning licenses from the Guatemalan Government to establish the first pilot project. Political violence and government shutdowns associated with the Guatemalan presidential election conducted between June and August prevented team access to the mini-grid site and created significant project delays. UVG’s partner is applying to USAID’s Development Credit Authority for a credit guarantee to support the financing of the first site. Once the partner completes its fundraising, it will initiate construction of the mini-grid. UVG’s award has been extended to September 2020.

Project News: 
4th Microgrid Global Innovation Forum

Andrew Varrow of Development Ventures—a Universidad del Valle de Guatemala (UVG) project partner—will discuss how microgrids can help eliminate energy poverty in the developing world, and outline strategies for encouraging private-sector investment in community-level microgrids.