Panasolar: Enabling Self-Sustaining Communities

Oct 9, 2019 | Impact Investing, Renewable Energy, Solar power, Solar Power

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Aerial view of Panasolar project in Aguadulce, Panama

The sun is beating down during the two and a half hour drive southwest of Panama City via the main highway. Dust kicks up as you turn onto a dirt road, and 15 minutes later the landscape opens up into a sea of metal and silicon. Allow me to introduce you to Panasolar, a 12.4 MW solar photovoltaic energy project in which Deetken Impact Sustainable Energy has invested.

The project was completed in May 2019, taking approximately 12 months to be built,  and generating approximately 100 temporary jobs, in addition to the 10 permanent positions that will be created over its lifetime. 

The major shareholders and champions of this project are two Italians with an extraordinary vision, Mr. Enrico Desiata and Mrs. Frances Rocca, a  married couple with two kids. They started the development of this project in 2012, and despite setbacks and obstacles with government permits, an initial lack of financing, and market changes, they persevered and finally achieved their goal of building their solar plant.

Deetken Impact Sustainable Energy played an instrumental role in the completion of the project by together with the Interamerican Corporation for Infrastructure Financing (CIFI) joining the project as preferred shareholders of Panasolar, bringing financial, technical and socio-environmental expertise, as well as support to the Corporate Governance structure of the company.

This project is expected to reduce 24,000 tons of CO2 annually and generate 19 GWh per year of clean energy. It has reached exacting standards, in compliance with IFC performance standards, Ecuador principles, and the Gold Standard certification process.

Mr Desiata and Mrs Rocca realized that there was more work to be done in that area in addition to the solar plant.  The Municipality of Aguadulce, where the project is located, has a population of 9,000 people, including residents of the Vista Hermosa and Llano Sánchez communities. The average family  income in this region is 5-10 USD per day, with the main activity in the area being sugar cane and salt production.

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(Left and Right side) Enrico Desiata and Francesca Rocca, majority shareholders of Panasolar. (Centre) Luisa Torres – president of the Aguadulce water committee.

They met with community leaders of the two nearest communities to the project site, Vista Hermosa and Llano Sánchez, to determine their immediate needs, and how Panasolar could collaborate with them. They also met with the mayor of Aguadulce, to communicate their plans, and obtain the approval of the Municipality.

Based on these meetings they decided to launch the following initiatives:

  • New Well and Water Pumping System: Panasolar provided a new well and water pumping system to the community of Aguadulce, benefitting 250 people. The project provided all required materials needed to build the well and a new pumping system. The community provided the labor to build this project. According to Mrs. Luisa Torres, president of the community’s water committee, this new pumping device has been  “life changing for all of them” as in the past they were only able to pump water for the community for 3-4 hours per day, and now with the new pumping system they are able to pump 8-10 hours per day. 

                              New well and water pumping system in Aguadulce, Panama

  • New Fence for Llano Sanchez school: They provided materials for and installation of a much needed fence to Llano Sanchez school, that would ensure the safety of students and prevent robberies and vandalism to equipment and school property.  

Additionally, Pansolar has supported the communities as a sponsor of soccer tournaments and community fairs, both of which help bring people together. And they have committed an annual budget to continue to support the most pressing needs of the communities of Vista Hermosa and Llano Sánchez. They will continue to evaluate with community leaders how these funds will be best utilized and distributed among the two communities.

Panasolar is clearly more than a solar photovoltaic energy project, and we at Deetken Impact Sustainable Energy feel honoured to partner with such committed individuals who are dedicated to bringing renewable energy and self sustainability to this beautiful region of Panama.