Broad Comm has developed a broad range of Solar Solutions for rural electrification that began in Central America. Our Solutions can be used on any continent and provide affordable, sustainable and reliable electricity to off-grid areas in order to facilitate access to clean light, safe water, communication, information and various business opportunities. The basic Solar Net Village connects the community Center, the school, the medical center and the Church to the off-grid solar plant. VoIP and Video over IP are delivered as well, at the start.
Broad Comm established the relationships, the business and technical specifications, as well as implemented the first “Solar Net Villages” in Central America; Honduras, EL Salvador and Nicaragua. Broad Comm partnered with KSL-TV and Bonneville Satellite for bandwidth and transponder requirements. Broad Comm was responsible for the worldwide licensing, of the C-band system. Broad Comm was the first company to receive from the FCC, a blanket license for C band use.
Broad Comm believes that Solar Energy is an opportunity to empower communities first, then individuals, in remote areas. With our Energy Solutions and experience, we want to be the partner who makes a positive impact on the standard of living of very rural areas by providing them with Solar Solutions that immediately raise their standard of living.
Our Solar Home Systems are cost efficient ways for families to instantly utilize solar energy. Bigger systems, such as Off-Grid Packages and Mini Grids are suitable to meet the energy requirements of small villages, including: schools, medical centers, government buildings, as well as businesses and entire communities. Municipalities and cooperatives can benefit from Solar Street Lights, Water Pumps and various solutions for agricultural usage.
BROAD COMM'S ENERGY EVALUATION
- How to improve access in rural areas.
- How to finance investments in generation and transmission in the absence of either a financially healthy utility or of concessionary funds by external donors for these types of investments;
- How to re-balance tariffs, cut arrears and reduce commercial losses –
including electricity theft – without fostering social unrest; and
- How to reconcile environmental concerns with the government’s objective to build potential environmentally changing energy generating plants.
- A three-pronged approach to pushing for sustainability: output-based subsidies to communities with economic potential; business support activities; and micro-finance.
BROAD COMM MEASURES THE SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC BENEFITS
Provides complete profile of HH, including income levels and sources. Focus of survey was one educational returns, plus effect on entertainment, time spent on HH chores, health and home business productivity.
SALIENT RESULTS EXAMPLE
While higher income levels are correlated with electrification, this is not necessarily causation in one direction, because higher income HH are also likely to adopt electricity when it becomes available. Electrification clearly increases the chances (by about 10%) that HH will engage in some form of home business. Once electrification occurs, about 25% of HH will engage in home business.
SOLAR NET VILLAGE CASE STUDY: HONDURAS
With the desire for the world to move forward technically, it’s also important to recognize those who will be left behind; the underserved, those who live in rural locales and remote communities, with no access to information technology. Many times, these locations are without the basic resources to establish a self-sustaining system of communication. Traditionally, this contingent has been overlooked; creating a virtual ‘digital divide’ that separates them from the interconnected global community. Mr. Libin, CEO of Broad Comm, Inc had a vision, to counteract this growing disparity. His goal was to not only provide wireless broadband connectivity to rural communities, but to assist in implementing a self-sustaining source of energy to power the new technology. Broad Comm worked with United Nations Education, Science and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to bring technology and infrastructure to rural communities, and to create employment opportunities related to renewable energy. This resulted in the Harare Declaration, which promoted the use of solar energy in sustainable development endeavors around the world. More than 100 leaders and representatives of governments signed this declaration, leading to the General Assembly of the United Nation’s approval of the World Solar Program on December 16, 1998. Broad Comm was well represented at that historic meeting. The concept behind solar villages was born.
Beginning 1997, Broad Comm, Inc. secured an agreement with the Honduran Cabinet to develop new applications for rural development, as well as providing plans for bringing high technology manufacturing and products to the nation.
Unfortunately, just one week after one of Mr. Libin’s visits and presentation to the Honduran Cabinet, Hurricane Mitch ravaged Honduras and neighboring nations in Central America. This terrible disaster prompted a visit by a delegation from UNESCO in February 1999. These meetings between UNESCO representatives, the Honduran Council of Science and Technology (COHCIT) with the Honduran Minister of Science and Technology, and Louis Libin, resulted in a commitment from both entities to implement an emergency project in the Honduras.
This would be the first case scenario of the solar village concept. The selected village would serve as an example of how an organized community, when given the opportunity and materials needed, could realize a transformation process. 15 This would be the first instance in Latin America of an entire village powered by solar energy.
The village of San Ramon was selected. As the site of what would be the first solar village of Latin America, San Ramon would provide many challenges. It was the most poverty-stricken and least accessible village of the southern region, and also the worst hit by the recent hurricane. A vibrant village, conversely characterized by rough topography, inadequate transportation and remote location, San Ramon was the ideal candidate for the project. Solar energy was an obvious solution, as were the requirements for satellite bandwidth.
It was a challenge in many respects, as the influx of material, supplies and technicians needed to create a solar village would have to come by way of the region’s nonexistent roads. Under Broad Comm’s guidance, the project set forth to bring the reality of power, telephony and the Internet to the rural village. At many points along the journey, the necessary computers, monitors, solar panels and other high-tech equipment would have to arrive over weather-ravaged roads and rugged terrain.
The solar village has fulfilled the dreams of many; especially those who envisioned the day their town would finally have electricity. The school now features an array of computer workstations with full Internet connectivity, printers, software programs, a scanner and a digital camera, embarking a new generation into the information age, as well as the whole of San Ramon’s residents. Distance learning has become a reality. The true benefits to the village are to be realized in the near future, as the goal of a self-sustaining economy is inevitable.
The United Nations now uses San Ramon as the benchmark with developing these new villages. The impact to San Ramon was powerful. San Ramon has undergone a profound transformation. Today in the village, the real electricity in the air is one of excitement. The newfound self-sustainability of San Ramon has opened numerous possibilities for its people. Right away, the difference can be seen with the recent addition of San Ramon’s first public illumination system. A series of five streetlights, installed with sodium vapor light bulbs, provide necessary light to the village’s main street. The system provides citizens with both improved safety and increased evening activity, as it illuminates the central part of town. The church can now be conveniently utilized for nightly services, as its lighting can be used an average of three hours per day.
The school is now a much-improved place of learning. There is adequate illumination for all six classrooms, the kitchen and the main hall. Each classroom, as well as the library, is fitted with its own plug allowing for the use of the television, VCR and computers. With the 11 computers featuring broadband connectivity, distance learning is now possible. Both the students and the community as a whole enjoy the learning capabilities of the school. Innovative software is being utilized at the school, to serve as an example for rural schools elsewhere in the country.
Almost half of the village has taken part in a training program relevant to a topic of their own interest. Where children have primarily been oriented with computers in their classroom environment, young leaders and adults are focusing on activities that will serve as starting points for micro-enterprises. These enterprises focus on industries such as garment and tailoring, handcraft and artistry, hammock and shoe manufacturing, bakery and corn milling, organic agriculture and a freshwater fishery. These enterprises will serve to create new jobs, provide needed income for village families and residents and continue the theme of self-sustainability that defines the Solar.net Village. This was the first of 1800 planned Solar Net Villages in Central America.
This project began the privatization of Central American Telecom companies. Broad Comm is considered an expert in assessment, predictions and recommendations for privatization of utilities, primarily telecom companies.