After working on the family farm, Carlos Salama comes home and plugs his cell phone into a socket via a solar-powered electrical system, a rarity in this rural village in southern El Salvador.
At home, Isabel Bracamontes uses gas only for cooking. "We try to prepare food that doesn't need cooking, like salads," she says in the southeastern Mexican city of Mérida.
More than 90 percent of Chile's 17.5 million people have access to electricity. But many live in energy poverty because they do not have access to hot water, have unsafe connections, houses without thermal insulation and with indoor pollution, or can't afford to pay the monthly bill.
Communities in Arica y Parinacota, the region in the extreme north of Chile, are using solar energy and are being empowered by projects for shrimp and trout farming, the production of yarn from camelid wool, the production of tomatoes and cheese, and even the sale of surplus solar power to the national electric grid.
Chile is in a privileged position in the world to produce green hydrogen and boost the development of the new fuel thanks to the country’s optimal conditions for generating solar and wind energy, but the large investment required and the scarcity of water are two of the biggest obstacles to overcome.
Indigenous farmers on communally owned lands have blocked since 2016 a private solar farm in the southeastern Mexican state of Yucatan by means of legal action, due to the company’s failure to hold consultations with local native communities and the risk of environmental damage.
Most beginnings are rocky and sometimes the obstacles seem insurmountable, before they are finally overcome. This was certainly the case for the Finca Marta, a farm in Cuba that had to begin by digging a well in search of water and with the hard-scrabble work of clearing an arid, stony and overgrown plot of land.
The unprecedented growth of renewable energies in Argentina over the last three years has borne its greatest fruit: the Cauchari solar park, with nearly one million photovoltaic panels and 300 MW of installed power, which was connected to the national power grid on Sept. 26.
The Atacama Desert, a giant reservoir of solar power, is the battering ram of the transformation undertaken by Chile to decarbonise its energy mix, in a country with enormous potential in non-conventional renewable sources.
"Showing solidarity is consuming the energy generated in your own municipality" - this is the motto of a project of distributed electricity generation in one of Brazil's many poor neighbourhoods.
A Mexican solar energy cooperative, Onergia, seeks to promote decent employment, apply technological knowledge and promote alternatives that are less polluting than fossil fuels, in one of the alternative initiatives with which Mexico is seeking to move towards an energy transition.
Solar energy has continued to expand in Brazil during the COVID-19 pandemic and should contribute to the economic recovery in the wake of the health crisis.
"The idea came to a group of schoolmates and me in 2014, but we never thought it could become a reality," says Sebastián Ieraci, 23, as he points to a multitude of photovoltaic solar panels shining on the roof of the Antonio Devoto High School in the Argentine capital.
The intense white brightness of the salt flats interrupts the arid monotony of the Puna in northwest Argentina, resembling postcards from the moon. Beneath its surface are concealed the world's largest reserves of lithium, the key mineral in the transition to clean energy, the mining of which has triggered controversy.
"On moonless nights it was very difficult to walk around this town," says Celia Vilte, a teacher from San Francisco, a highlands village of just 54 people in the extreme northwest of Argentina whose centre is not a town square but 40 solar panels, which provide one hundred percent of its electricity.
"Biogas is the best energy, it has no contraindications," and if you combine it with solar it becomes "the best energy business," at least in Brazil, says Anélio Thomazzoni.
A large steel wheel, 14 meters in diameter and 1.3 meters wide, could be the energy solution of the near future, generating 3.5 megawatts - enough to supply a city of 30,000 people, according to a company in the capital city of the state of Amazonas in northwest Brazil.
A school in the capital of Easter Island (Rapa Nui, in the local indigenous tongue) gives an example of clean management with the use of solar energy, rainwater recovery and an organic vegetable garden, as well as rooms and spaces built with waste materials.
Social organisations in the central Mexican municipality of Yecapixtla managed to halt the construction of a large thermoelectric plant in the town and are now designing a project to convert the installation into a solar panel factory, which would bring the area socioeconomic and environmental dividends.
“We can’t work just to pay the electric bill,” complained José Hilario dos Santos, president of the Residents Association of Morro de Santa Marta, a favela or shantytown embedded in Botafogo, a traditional middle-class neighborhood in Rio de Janeiro.
"Solar energy makes my happiness complete," said Divina Cardoso dos Santos, owner of one of 740 houses with photovoltaic panels on the rooftops in a settlement on the outskirts of this central Brazilian city.