Mike Safley By Mike Safley | December 16, 2016

100% Solar Energy at Casa Chapi

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Dale Cantwell, who developed and managed the solar energy project at CC

Casa Chapi Children’s Village in the Colca Valley of southern Peru gets 100% of its energy from the sun. Casa Chapi is located in a remote area about 2 miles from Chivay, with no access to electric power. In October 2015, we installed a solar electric system to compliment the solar hot water heaters that were installed a few years before. The Colca Valley gets about 330 days of sunshine a year. The rainy season in January and February is when most of the cloudy days happen, and fortunately, this is when our school is on summer break.

We have six solar hot water heaters, one on each of the Casita’s plus one on the clinic. Each of our solar hot water heaters are capable of supplying 50-80 gallons per day of hot water for showering and washing.

Our Solar Electric system has 18 240-watt solar panels, 12 240 amp-hour 12-volt batteries, as well as inverters, battery charges and controllers. Because we are not connected to the grid, we have to rely on batteries at night and when the sun does not shine. We have state-of-the-art inverters, battery charges and controllers supplied by Victron. These electronics ensure the system is always operating efficiently and prevent malfunctions. These solar electronics are connected to the cloud and report production, usage, and general health of the system every 15 minutes. Below are some examples of these reports. The first is a daily graph of consumption, and the second is the solar production.

solar-graph solar-graph2

Our students and teachers now have reliable electricity for lighting, refrigeration and to power their computers. Hot water is available for washing clothes, showering and the kitchen. These systems supply Casa Chapi with 100% of its energy needs, and we are proud that it’s entirely renewable!

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