Solar power for rural communities in Suriname

guguplexUK–Guguplex brings affordable, clean solar power to rural communities in Suriname. One of the eight IDEAS 2012 competition winners, the company aims to bring affordable, clean solar power to rural communities in the country, who do not have 24/7 access to electricity. Many rural communities depend on kerosene lamps and/or candles for night light.  This aggravates respiratory conditions and can be costly.  

Alternatively, some communities have access to electricity from diesel generators, but this fuel is very expensive and so electricity is on for only a few hours a day.  Guguplex sells and maintains solar equipment on a retail basis through its store in Paramaribo and intends to provide solar lighting at minimal cost through assistance from a local micro-finance institution.

Guguplex held an official launch of their project in October and has started implementing their programme in one of the targeted villages, at Stoelmanseilland in the Tapanahony area.  Fourteen people have been trained  so far in the maintenance of PV systems.  A solar system was installed at a school on Stoelmans Island to provide the students with power to the IT room and internet access . One hundred and fifty-five children from the school were taught the principles of solar electricity and were shown how solar panels work to provide electricity. The coordinator of Education, inspired by this story, would like to use this project as example to replicate it in other remote located schools.

This project will build on work already started on a “pro bono” basis.  It is intended that at the end of two years, 80 homes across five communities in the country will have solar PV systems installed.  In addition, two schools (including that on Stoelmans Island) will benefit by having systems installed on their premises . The project also aims to increase employment by training 25 entrepreneurs to provide solar equipment directly in rural communities.

 The project sponsors have already established a working relationship with the Women’s Business Group – a local micro-credit unit and the Godo Bank.  Both of these entities will provide funding to project participants to purchase the solar equipment.

IDEAS is an Energy Innovation Contest to support the development of innovative projects promoting renewable energies, and improving energy efficiency. This round of the contest was targeted specifically at the Caribbean, with financial support provided by UKAid from the Department for International Development (DFID). The wider contest is also sponsored and supported by GVEP International, the Government of South Korea, and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).

The contest is an initiative of  UK-headquartered charity GVEP International, which works to improve access to clean energy in developing countries. Most of the organization’s programmes are run in East Africa: Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Rwanda and Senegal.

Read a summary of all the IDEAS2 winners.

Further information about the IDEAS Energy Innovation Contest :

–          A new IDEAS Contest calls for proposals to promote sustainable energy in the Caribbean

–          2012 IDEAS Energy Innovation Contest for the Caribbean : winning innovative ideas identified

GVEP International has a Caribbean Project Manager based in Barbados who overviews  IDEAS Energy Innovation Contest (supported by IDB, UKAid and the Korean government). For more information: Leighton Waterman – Leighton.Waterman@gvepinternational.org – Tel. +1 246 426-3344.

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  1. This is a great idea and I hope it comes to fruition. Solar energy has been successfully used in many other countries – and to a lesser extent here in Suriname.