Masdar solar plant brings light to communities in Belize
Children can study with ease and residents can walk safely at night in rural Belize, thanks to renewable electricity generated by a UAE-funded Masdar project.
Blackouts used to be common in three indigenous Mayan villages in the southern-most region of Belize, leaving families in darkness, children struggling to do their homework and households unable to refrigerate food.
But all of that changed after Masdar installed a solar-powered mini-grid system in the villages of Indian Creek, Golden Stream and Medina Bank, in Belize, a Central American country on the Caribbean coast.
“For us, life used to be very difficult. We could have blackouts…It was not easy,” said Indian Creek resident Vilma Rash. “Now we have electricity, we can do so many things. My children don’t have to do their homework in the dark anymore.”
With 400 kilowatts of solar panels and 600 kilowatt hours of battery storage, the system is mainly powered by solar energy, with a standby diesel generator to provide power during the wet season. The plant will save Belize almost 200,000 liters of diesel fuel and avoid around 500 tonnes of CO2 emissions yearly.
Electricity from the mini-grid is powering homes, schools, clinics, water pumping facilities and tourist operations. Before it was installed residents had endured 30 years of intermittent or no electricity, said Community leader Finity Muschamp.
“Masdar has transformed our community in one of the most impressive manners that Indian Creek has ever seen,” he said.
That transformation has been achieved by providing the villages with access to clean, reliable electricity, thanks to the Belize Rural Electrification Project (BREP), delivered by Masdar through the UAE-Caribbean Renewable Energy Fund.
The US$50 million UAE-Caribbean Renewable Energy Fund (UAE-CREF) was launched at Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week 2017 as a partnership between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (MoFAIC), Masdar and ADFD, the UAE’s leading financial institutions spearheading national and global development projects.
Michel Chebat, Minister of Public Utilities in Belize, said, “This is a very important project for us as a government. Masdar has been a critical partner in this project. It brings a vast experience in the field of renewable energy projects.”
Basel Dahleh, Principal, Masdar Americas, said, “Islands in general and the Caribbean Islands, in particular, are in the forefront of fighting climate change. It is important for Masdar to make an impact on those economies and to provide access to clean energy.”
Mr Dahleh added that providing investment in clean energy to the villages would result in a better life for most of the people living there.
Vilma Rash, the Indian Creek resident, agreed: “Thanks to Masdar, our life has changed. They have come here to make our community better.”