Date of Award

2014

Document Type

Thesis

Department

Environmental Resources Engineering

Thesis Advisor

Dr. Charles N. Kroll

Keywords

underserved communities, electrical lighting, hydroelectric generators, Andes

Abstract

Abra Malagá Thastayoc is a rural Andean community consisting of approximately 150 Quechua- speaking inhabitants practicing self-sufficient agriculture, pastoralism and traditional weaving techniques. Many in the community earn less than $1.50 per day and survive on the papa nativa (native potato) as well as their livestock consisting of llama, alpaca, pigs, cows, sheep, chickens, and guinea pigs (Abra Malaga, 2013). To supplement their crops and livestock, men work as guides on the Inca trail or work construction, and women can at times sell their textiles.

Similar to many rural communities in Peru, this community lacks a connection to the electrical grid and there is little chance of this happening in the future. Most local households do not have lighting, and community members have to travel approximately 40 km to charge basic electrical devices. Due to limited governmental action in the distribution of electricity to small communities in the Andean Highlands, Abra Malaga was seeking partnerships to complete a project to provide electricity to their community. In 2006, a Cusco, Peru non-profit, Asociacion Ecosistemas Andinos (ECOAN), began the installation of solar panels for a school house as well as for homes in high visibility areas (Vilcanota Project, 2014). The State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry Engineering for a Sustainable Society (ESF-ESS) student organization became connected with Abra Malaga through ECOAN in August 2012 and has continued to support this electrification project, hereby referred to as the project (Decker, 2014).

Through this partnership, the project has provided accessible sources of electricity to nearly twenty households in Abra Malagá Thastayoc using off-grid alternative energy sources while also developing a sustainable model for rural electrification in the Peruvian highlands. The project included the installation of two micro-hydro systems, one low and one high head, and 12 solar panels.

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