Solar energy for food sovereignty of riverbank families

  • Project team:

    François, Davi Ezequiel (Project leader); Witold-Roger Poganietz

  • Funding:

    Honnold Foundation

  • Start date:


  • End date:


  • Project partners:

    Associação dos Trabalhadores Agroextrativistas da Ilha das Cinzas (Brazil); Embrapa Amapá (Brazil); Laboratório de Energias Renováveis da Universidade Federal do Amapá (Brazil); Center for Energy and Society at Arizona State University (USA)

  • Research group:

    Socio-Technical Energy Futures

Project description

This applied research project follows a participatory and integrative approach in which community members are the main actors. The project has three main objectives. First, to create socioeconomic benefits through the installation and use of solar energy and basic sanitation for 50 rural families living in the community of Ilha das Cinzas in the Brazilian Amazon region in the state of Pará. Second, to successfully transfer project management and operation of the facilities to the local community government. Third, to further develop the concept of the Social Value of Energy, which is expected to maximize socio-economic benefits in the community while reducing the risks and burdens to the local families through access to electricity.

The families of the community Ilha das Cinzas have lived for generations on the banks of the Amazon River in stilt houses and live on fishing and the extraction of fruits from the forest. The pulp of the açaí berry is the families’ food basis.

The community has no access to the electricity grid and only limited access to other basic services such as drinking water, basic sanitation, and sewage treatment. To have access to electricity, most of the families rely on diesel generators with high operating costs. On average, the generators provide three hours of electricity per day per family.

Against this background, the project will install solar energy systems that contribute to securing basic human needs (lighting, food refrigeration, communication, etc.), to promoting productive chains involving sustainable forest management (solar energy for irrigation and fertilization, and management of the native açaí palms), and to food security (cooling and processing of fish and açaí fruits for local consumption and sale of the surplus).

Moreover, the project will capacitate community members, especially women and young people, to install, operate, and maintain the solar systems. In addition, sanitation facilities will be installed in the community to improve basic sanitation and to supply the açaí palms with organic fertilizer. The exchange of experience with other communities will also be promoted.

An innovative aspect in this participatory and inclusive project is that the project is led and managed by the community itself, in cooperation with local partners from Embrapa and Universidade Federal do Amapá, as well as international partners from the Center for Energy and Society at Arizona State University (ASU) and the Institute for Technology Assessment and Systems Analysis at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT).

In this project, the ASU and KIT research teams will focus on the social value of energy in the community. In an ongoing dialogue with community members and local partners, they will systematically consider energy access by relating energy to local challenges of different kinds (e.g., sociocultural, political, economic, and environmental challenges).


Conference Papers
Lima Pena, A. G.; Ubaiara Brito, A.; Lira Guedes, P. M.; Monteiro, F.; Barbosa Malheiros, J.; Barbosa Malheiros, F.; Guedes, M. C.; Dias Júnior, A. F.; François, D. E.; Poganietz, W.-R.; Parmentier, M. J.
Sistema fotovoltaico isolado de configuração mista para famílias Ribeirinhas
2022. Anais CBENS 2022, 1119 


Dr. Davi Ezequiel François
Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT)
Institute for Technology Assessment and Systems Analysis (ITAS)
P.O. Box 3640
76021 Karlsruhe

Tel.: +49 721 608-24675