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The PERMER Project 

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While many of the most exciting clean energy stories feature new technology, massive solar and wind farms, or major legislation, work like the Renewable Energies in Rural Markets Project (PERMER) provides clean energy transitions in communities that may not otherwise see the benefits. This project also seeks to promote economic development and social inclusion in Argentina’s interior by providing electricity to rural schools, small enterprises, homes, and busy communities.

Resolution 758/2022 gives PERMER the resources to provide renewable energy to 494 primary health centers across 13 provinces using photovoltaic power. These health centers will be better equipped to care for some 40,000 Argentinains who live in the interior of the country. Luciano Galardón, the PERMER Coordinator, noted that “the uninterrupted supply of energy to Primary Health Care Centers is a key factor in improving health care in communities that are far from urban centers.” Each center will also receive a solar refrigerator, powered by autonomous photovoltaic generators, that will be used for vaccine storage.

Another project led by PERMER will provide electricity through renewable energy for 281 public establishments across 19 provinces. The Secretary of Energy described the project as providing access to uninterrupted clean energy that will improve the quality of life and working conditions of rural populations. The award for this project was tendered in late 2022, and the contracts still need to be signed and work schedule will need to be accepted with the companies that will carry out the project. However, once this process is underway police detachments, health establishments, rural schools, and Argentine Army Border posts will receive consistent renewable energy.

PERMER is also in the process of deploying clean energy in schools across Argentina. They are currently working with the Ministry of Education of the Province of Salta to host informative meetings with local communities about the use of solar energy in 260 schools throughout the Chaco, Centro, Valles, and Puna regions. This project, which was awarded through the National Public Tender No.1/2021, will provide state-of-the-art solar panels and lithium battery storage equipment. This is expected to support 21,000 students, teachers, and community members by improving access to educational tools and better learning conditions. The installation of PV equipment in schools will power computer operations, Internet access, electric lighting, televisions, photocopiers, etc., and will replace the gas generators used in the past. As of December 2022, PERMER had installed renewable energy generation at 728 schools. This is particularly important because many of these schools also serve as the homes for their students whose families live far away, thus allowing them to use refrigerators, washing machines, and other necessary appliances. 

PERMER’s creation of mini-grid networks can be accomplished using several forms of renewable energy, including wind, solar, and hydraulic, and provide electricity to entire communities. These mini-grids include battery banks and cold reserves in case of low levels of wind or solar. They are then able to power health centers, shops, schools, and homes within a community. For instance, the mini-grid created in El Toro, Jujuy, powers two schools, a health center, six public buildings, and creates sustainable energy for 183 families. The mini-grid in Los Naranjos, Salta, provides energy for 320 families, as well as a health center, police station, and two schools. There are currently 13 of these mini-grids across Argentina, and they benefit over 63,000 rural Argentinians. This is the next step for Argentina as they continue to develop more ways for rural families to get access to clean, sustainable energy. 

As of December 2022, the PERMER project had invested over $140 million into bringing renewable energy into rural communities across Argentina. By providing a consistent source of energy, students, teachers, health care professionals, patients, government workers, and families will have an improved quality of life — all thanks to renewable energy.

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Otto Gunderson

Otto graduated from the University of Virginia class of 2022 with a degree in history. He has been involved in clean energy, specifically solar and circular economic practices, for four years now and has been writing about clean energy for 2 years. Due to a lack of writing on the clean energy transitions in South America and Africa, Otto decided to spend his 2023 traveling across these continents, interviewing clean energy entrepreneurs, researchers, and disruptors and publishing their stories.

Otto Gunderson has 20 posts and counting. See all posts by Otto Gunderson