Viola Debus, first RLC Valdivia student, successfully defended her thesis on “Appropriate technology to face climate change: The national electricity market barriers and possibilities for Homemade Solar Panels on a human scale” in which she discusses how to clarify and address various barriers to implementation of solar panels based on community strategies.
Rural areas in Chile are still without access to basic services such as drinkable water or electricity. The lack of public policies, the centralization and monopolization of the electricity market, leaving communities with no other choice but to use ways to generate electricity with high costs, both economically and socio-environmental, example of this are the petrol generators. Even though there are appropriate technologies for those types of places such as photovoltaic panels, they do not get implemented due to various barriers encountered, such as the lack of information and knowledge about its benefits, the high monetary cost of these technologies and/or the lack of subsidies from the government.
This thesis discusses how to clarify and address these barriers based on community strategies which enable a pilot project with photovoltaic panels within the community “Lomas del Sol”, 1 km outside the urban area of Valdivia, Chile. The use of materials available on the Chilean market in order to build a “homemade” photovoltaic solar panel will be studied, expecting to lower investment costs and increase self-reliance of the communities. Another expected effect is the reduction of the emission of greenhouse gases by reducing fossil fuel compared to the currently used generators, which would have a positive effect in temperate forests