How many villages are there in Colombia

German solar energy for Colombian villages

There is no street in Solano. The electricity is generated by a smelly diesel generator, and only four hours a day, from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. The everyday life of the people in the community of Solano in the southern Colombian department of Caquetá is arduous. Only 20,000 people live here in an area the size of Denmark. So far, armed guerrilla groups have prevented Solano from being connected to the electricity grid. They fear that an air force base in the neighborhood could also benefit from it. The local people suffer.

This is exactly where the first German-Colombian climate protection partnership comes to life. A delegation from the Rhein-Kreis Neuss from North Rhine-Westphalia has now handed over the first "energy box" to the municipality's administration. "Solano is far away and in the minds of the people in the big cities in Colombia there is no parking place. The community cannot be reached by land. The electrification is inadequate. The simplest needs have to be met here," says Jürgen Steinmetz, deputy District Administrator of the Rhein-Kreis Neuss during his visit to the South American country. "That is why we want to support the local people with our skills and experience."

Technology from Germany: Solar power for Solano

Steinmetz Heimatkommune has had good contacts in Colombia for years. The Rhein-Kreis is one of the leading energy locations in Germany. That is why the district was selected as the executing municipality by the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) for the project. The BMZ is investing around 500,000 euros in the climate protection project.

Energy box supplies electricity immediately

The concept is very simple: an energy box about two meters high, fed by solar energy, immediately supplies electricity and helps to remove the bottlenecks in the community. "We set up the box together with the Colombians. The people on site have already got to know the technology in this way. The concept also includes a technology transfer, because it is not enough to just set up the box. The people on site also have to meet can maintain and repair ", says Steinmetz. The success is visible right from the start: the new energy box provided light and electricity for the opening ceremony.

Community support

Jürgen Steinmetz and Eliseo Murillo Criollo in front of the Ministry of the Environment in Bogotá

"The special feature of the Solano project is that people at community level in Germany and Colombia have come together to form a climate partnership," explains Hubert Deubler, planning engineer for renewable energies. "The aim is to work together to improve the living conditions of the people here in the Colombian communities."

The expert for off-grid power supply is usually out and about in the high Alps to supply the mountain rescue huts, which are located far away from the power grid, with electricity. It is precisely this experience that helps to support the community in the South American country in their project. "This is not done at the expense, but in harmony with biodiversity. With our concept, we want to promote sustainable and nature-friendly development in the Colombian Amazon lowlands," Deubler explains the project's fundamentals. The local interest in the project is huge. Some of the residents of Solano were out and about for up to four days to be there when the first energy box was set up.

Solano's Mayor Eliseo Murillo Criollo firmly believes in the sustainability of the partnership: "The environment is our wealth, that's why we want to protect and preserve it. The energy box helps us not to pollute our environment with fossil fuels or other substances."

Both sides now want to deepen the partnership. "We would like to support Solano in continuing on this path bit by bit," says Steinmetz. "We can do a lot for climate protection in Germany. But we also have to ensure internationally that the situation in other countries improves. Otherwise our own efforts will not have the full effect."