R9 Solar Community Initiative Summit

The R9 Solar Community Initiative Summit was held during the 38th IEEE Conference in Central America and Panama (CONCAPAN) in San Salvador, El Salvador from 7 – 9 November, 2018.

Focus of the Summit

The summit was a global initiative to encourage a large network of IEEE and non-IEEE volunteers to find appropriate technologies and practices for a sustainable development. It also served as a platform for engagement with external participants, such as non-profit organizations and the University of El Salvador’s agricultural college of engineering. Eight different organizations supported the session, including IEEE HAC (Humanitarian Activities Committee) and IEEE SIGHT.

The Summit united volunteer members and project leaders from R9 to join the Initiative, exchange best practices, and share training opportunities. The theme was “Lessons Learned from Solar Energy Projects in Latin American communities.” The agenda covered challenges imposed by the integration of solar solutions in Latin America from a technical, environmental and social viewpoint. Experts from the Chilean Solar Energy Research Center moderated the event.


Speakers and the Audience

The session included a number of well-rounded and knowledgeable speakers.

  • Rodrigo Palma-Behnke from Chile, Director of the Solar Energy Research Center and Associate Professor of the Electrical Engineering Department, both at the University of Chile.
  • Rosa Mejia from El Salvador, an independent consultant specializing in design and management of photovoltaic projects.
  • Carlos Meza from Costa Rica, Associate Professor at the Technological Institute of Costa Rica.
  • Marcia Montedonico from Chile, Head of the Socio-Environmental Development Unit of the Energy
    Center, Faculty of Physical and Mathematical Sciences, at the University of Chile.
  • Mario Aleman from Nicaragua, IEEE Senior Member, founder of IEEE SIGHT Nicaragua, and former member of the SIGHT Steering Committee and HAC.

Forty-five participants attended the Summit. They included IEEE volunteers from R9 CAPANA council, R9 Officers, academic professors, government officials and researchers. IEEE SIGHT Education Committee Chair Pritpal Singh also attended.


Projected Impact

Now, participants will strive to replicate the best practices and lessons learned from the session in their local projects. The forum concluded that Latin America has the operational capacity to develop solar energy, but should focus on managing expectations, developing financial models, and committing on a community-level to the operation and maintenance of solar technology solutions.