A pioneering educational conservation project has chosen Purasol to install 3 kW, as part of their efforts to raise awareness of energy use, environmental protection and mitigating climate change.
The Talamanca-Caribbean Biological Corridor (CBTC) is in the far southeast of Costa Rica, and is a project aimed at uniting existing protected areas such as the Amistad International Park, the Hitoy Cerere Biological Reserve, the Gandoca-Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge, and Cahuita National Park. The corridor facilitates the exchange of animal and plant species between these areas, as well as between private and indigenous lands. The corridor covers an area of 110,086 hectares, including 4,500 hectares of coastal area.
Purasol installed a solar system of 12 panels at the CBTC headquarters in Hone Creek, Talamanca, on November 26-27, 2012. The solar system has an online monitoring system and is connected to the ICE grid with a two-way meter.
United States Peace Corps volunteer, Stephen Lanning, is collaborating with the CBTC, his local counterpart on the project. He says: “To my knowledge, we are the first Talamanca organization connecting to the ICE network in their ‘Plan Piloto de Generación Distribuida Para Autoconsumo’ which allows for any surplus energy generated from the panels to be fed back to the ICE network, giving the CBTC energy credits at the end of the month.”
Purasol offers an ‘internet based gateway’ or online monitoring system for its solar systems, and Stephen emphasises the importance of their selecting this service: “The online monitoring is really important for our project” he says, “as it will be used as a demonstration centre for solar technology and other renewable energy alternatives, in bringing more consciousness about how we can mitigate the effects of climate change.”
The CBTC Environmental Education Department involves 15 local schools, and Lanning says: “The online tool will be a way in which we can creatively use technology to show the real-time results.”
The Peace Corps and Purasol are cooperating with IBM and the 17 member organisations of the CBTC in making the project a reality. The CBTC also has received substantial funding from CRUSA and the Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas (ECPA).
Lanning says he chose Purasol for three reasons: “Peace Corps has successfully completed a previous project and received a high recommendation from those involved. Secondly, Purasol was the most responsive to questions and the most flexible in taking into account the needs of both the CBTC and Peace Corps. Lastly, Purasol’s final quote for the project was the most economical of the three quotes we received and included some elements that the other companies did not offer.”
All three were equally important, although as the process developed, the second reason became more evident and would be the reason I would recommend them to others. They have been enormously patient, flexible, understanding and professional in all their communications and have really taken our unique circumstances into consideration to bring the best product at a price which was within the scope of our budget.”
Lanning adds that “We see the solar panel installation as complementing the other work that the CBTC is performing in the realm of climate change including reforestation projects (i.e. in the Sixaola River Basin), Pago por Servicios Ambientales (PSA), a joint project they are involved in with UICN regarding climate change and empowering indigenous communities in Panama and Talamanca to diversify their agricultural products, and their leadership in the 5 year plan for solid waste management in the canton of Talamanca, among other projects.”
Lanning said: “The installation was very straightforward. Purasol had 3 employees on the job and the CBTC joined with 2 of their own, along with myself as the Peace Corps volunteer. Involving the CBTC in the installation process was important so they could learn the installation process and maintenance procedures to provide knowledge transfer and sustainability to the project.”
This knowledge transfer continued the following day. Lanning tells: “On Tuesday, November 27th, the CBTC held the solar panel inauguration which featured the presentation by Pierre, starting at 1 pm in the afternoon. The presentation was attended by representatives of the following organizations including Corredor Biológico Talamanca Caribe, Association El Yüe, ACAPRO, Ministerio de Salud, UICN, MAG, ACOMUITA, Peace Corps, ICE and students from the Colegio Técnico de Valle de La Estrella (about 35 participants in total). The presentation was an important part of the project, because the objective of the project was not only to provide solar energy to the CBTC, thus reducing electricity costs, but also that the CBTC would serve as a renewable energy and demonstration centre for the solar panels, bringing further awareness to climate change.”
Purasol is proud to be of assistance to such a valuable project, and is very happy with the warm endorsement: Lanning concludes: “Purasol has been outstandingly patient in the process – I really can’t thank them enough for the time and energy they’ve put into the project.”