By David Blanco Bonilla
LIMA – Some 3 million people in Peru’s rural areas still lack electricity and nearly a third of the population is using firewood as cooking fuel, the Energy, Development and Life, or EnDev, project, said.
According to EnDev’s national coordinator, nearly 500,000 rural families must use battery-operated lights, candles and cigarette lighters to see at night and spend more than 40 soles (about $15) a month for low-quality power service.
A large portion of the rural population currently is not connected to the electricity grid, Ana Moreno told Efe.
Those figures were based on the Energy and Mines Ministry’s Rural Electrification Plan, published in December 2011.
That document indicated that electricity coverage has been extended to 63.7 percent of the rural population of Peru, a country whose total population amounts to 29 million inhabitants, according to the EnDev coordinator.
“That means there’s nearly 37 percent of the rural population that, to satisfy its basic electricity needs, is using open fires for cooking and candles or cigarette lighters for lighting, which emit contaminating smoke and obviously result in a greater number of acute respiratory illnesses,” Moreno said.
Still, “it should be noted that the country has made quite an extensive effort over the past decade to improve the rural population’s access to electrical energy,” she added.
The 1993 census indicated that just 7.7 percent of Peru’s rural population had access to electricity. By 2007, that figure had risen to 29.5 percent and the Energy and Mines Ministry’s latest report shows the proportion now stands at 63 percent, Moreno said.
“So there’s been progress. However, there’s a segment of the population that still doesn’t have access and for whom solutions need to be sought out, technologies adapted because generally these are very remote, isolated populations,” she said.
The topic will be addressed on Thursday in Lima during the Energy and Equity Symposium, where economical and viable technological proposals will be presented for bringing electricity to the country’s most remote areas, including a low-cost and high-quality solar energy system. EFE