Home Institution

Washington University in St. Louis

Publication Date

Fall 2010

Program Name

Brazil: Amazon Resource Management and Human Ecology


Isolated renewable energy projects are a promising alternative to diesel power for providing electricity in rural communities not connected to the conventional electricity transmission grid. However, there have been a limited number of such projects in rural Amazônia, and they often face obstacles that limit their sustainability. The objective of this study is to evaluate the environmental, social and economic impact of isolated renewable energy projects through a case study of a small-scale biomass and solar energy electrification project in the community of Santo Antônio, Pará. It will also evaluate the limitations to implementing and sustaining isolated renewable energy projects and discuss policy options for increasing the number and success of such projects in rural Amazônia. Through interviews with residents of Santo Antônio and professionals involved with the implementation of the electrification project, it was determined that the electrification project in Santo Antônio has the potential to help the community socially and economically. It will also likely provide energy to the community for many years due to the community’s strong organization and leadership and plan for maintaining the equipment. In addition, these energy sources have a minimal environmental impact, especially when compared with diesel fuel. Challenges that this and other isolated renewable energy projects face include obtaining funding for the projects, maintaining the systems, and developing productive uses for electricity. Government policies and programs that provide funding and regulation for isolated systems could help overcome these challenges and increase the number of renewable energy projects in rural communities.


Environmental Health and Protection | Environmental Policy | Growth and Development | Natural Resources and Conservation | Natural Resources Management and Policy | Oil, Gas, and Energy | Rural Sociology | Sustainability


Article Location