Tecoh is a small city south of Merida in Yucatán, Mexico. With a population of roughly 9,000, the majority of which are Maya peoples, it is the municipal capital of the Tecoh municipality, a region compiled of small rural communities and villages that are some of the most impoverished and disadvantaged in the country.
Residents in these remote communities are living in extreme poverty and do not have access to grid-connected power. Many of the villages also lack basic resources such as education, healthcare and other services. Families survive on as little as $1-4 USD a day, relying primarily on agriculture for their income, and spend an average of $10 USD per month on candles, diesel and other hazardous and expensive fuel sources simply to provide lighting in their homes.
It is estimated that more than 500,000 families in Mexico are living in similar circumstances.
Illumexico was founded in 2009 by a group of engineers looking for clean energy alternatives. Focusing solely on affordable off-grid installations, their goal is to provide sustainable, inclusive and reliable clean energy solutions to improve the lives of 1 million Mexican residents by 2025.
To address energy inequality in Yucatán, Illumexico has initiated a “Green Autonomous Communities” pilot project, coordinating with the state government, to install an affordable, clean and autonomous residential energy source in homes throughout the rural Tecoh region.
The off-grid systems include a 410W photovoltaic array (solar panel), inverter/charger and a Rolls 24-volt S24-50LFP lithium battery with 50 Amp-Hour nominal storage capacity, generating 1.5kWh of usable power each day. Eleven of these systems have been installed to-date, providing access to reliable energy for 44 people. A total of 150 systems will be installed by the end of the year.
To adhere to the project budget, and to maximize the impact on these communities, a basic off-grid system with lithium battery storage has been designed to generate a modest but sufficient amount of power. Homeowners are able to connect lighting, run a television, radio and other electronics such as laptops and tablets, as well as charge cell phones.
The off-grid system may be small but the impact for residents is substantial. Generating and storing free solar energy each day removes a significant portion of their monthly expenses. Families are able to save 2% of their monthly family earnings which would normally be spent to charge phones and 8-17% spent on inefficient and often hazardous fuels for lighting.
Reliable access to electricity also means families are able to increase the time spent together in their homes and afford an average of 2.5 hours additional hours a day for productive activities, socializing and studies.
The long-term environmental impact is also substantial as the eleven systems installed so far will eliminate the transport and use of hazardous fuels and reduce CO2 emissions by 3.25 tonnes each year.
In addition to their work in Yucatán, Illumexico is continuing their work by coordinating with partners and governments in other states where they will soon begin the design & deployment of 100 similar off-grid installations using Rolls LFP lithium batteries in communities in need.