Insolar: Empowering solar communities in Brazil

Insolar is a startup dedicated to bringing solar power to low-income families in Brazil.

In collaboration with low-income communities, Insolar install Photovoltaic Systems that convert the energy of the sun into electric energy, thus reducing the resident’s energy bills, as well as helping to preserve the environment.

Insolar began life providing solar power in Santa Marta, a favela in Rio de Janeiro that’s home to 5,000 people. While residents of the favela face unreliable, expensive power supplies, the favela also happens to enjoy year-round sunshine.

In Rio de Janeiro alone, 1.4 million residents live in favelas with expensive, unreliable power, but across the country solar power makes up only 0.02 per cent of the energy mix, despite Brazil attracting 2,000 hours of sunshine annually.

Brazil, according to Insolar founder Henrique Drumond, is an prime location for solar technology given the hours of sunshine that many parts of the country basque in daily.

Henrique Drumond was inspired to set up the social business after returning home from Mozambique, where he had been doing voluntary work using technology to help improve people’s lives.

He said: “By offering our planet much more energy than we need, it fosters a more collaborative society. By looking at all corners of the world, it favours the development of local economies in a decentralised way.”

Since launching in 2014, Insolar has installed more than 200 solar panels in Rio de Janeiro. Insolar’s mission was to generate 185,000 days of low-cost power over 25 years for families and community organisations, including all four of Santa Marta’s nurseries, letting them spend money normally allocated to energy on the children. The local samba school was also given solar panels, making it the first dance school in Brazil to convert the Sun’s energy into “the energy of Brazilian samba”.

As part of the installation of solar panels at Santa Marta, Insolar trained local citizens to install and maintain the infrastructure. Training was such a success that Insolar added an extra 40 panels.

Henrique Drumond added: “We believe that the path to progress is to bring energy, technology, education, training, and opportunity for the residents of low-income communities in order to reveal their talents in a way that would allow them contribute to the construction of a solar society.”

Insolar are hoping to extend their reach in the near future to other parts of the country, working in collaboration with favela residents, NGOs, and other like-minded organisations.


Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief @rosamedea


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