U.S. Trade Agency Helps New Sun Road Project Empowering Women, Installing Solar-Powered Microgrids in Guatemala

Aug. 31, 2023
The DCCs will be powered by solar panels coupled with battery storage and microgrid control systems. New Sun Road will train women to manage the facilities and educate their local communities in digital skills.

A California-based microgrid and digital control technology firm has been entrusted with installing clean energy and digitally transformational facilities at women-led community centers in Guatemala.

New Sun Road was selected to deliver the projects by Guatemala’s National Secretariat of Science and Technology (Senacyt) acting on a U.S. Trade and Development Agency technical assistance grant. Under the funding, New Sun Road will install solar-powered digital community centers in 10 communities unconnected to the internet and sometimes the electric power grid in the Central American nation.

The company will validate the business model in the first 10 digital community center (DCC) projects, with the goal of scaling its efforts to another 3,000 rural sites in Guatemala. The DCCs will be powered by solar panels coupled with battery storage and microgrid control systems.

New Sun Road will train women to manage the facilities and educate their local communities in digital skills, according to the USTDA announcement.

“This project reflects USTDA’s commitment to partner with Guatemala on its digital access priorities through collaboration with U.S. industry,” Enoh T. Ebong, director of the U.S. Trade and Development Agency, said in the statement. “It will also empower women to lead the delivery of critical services to their communities.”

New Sun Road deploys microgrid operating systems, Internet of Things controllers and solar and battery on-site power configurations. The company, founded only nine years ago, has projects in more than 20 countries, including several in Central and South America.

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Ongoing work to install digital community centers throughout Guatemala helps empower women in remote communities by developing digital leadership toolsand business skills, as well as providing gender-based violence awareness.

“New Sun Road is committed to accelerate the deployment of renewable energy and increase access for remote communities in Guatemala,” CEO Adrienne Pierce said. “We thank USTDA for funding this assistance and are proud to contribute our own resources toward advancing and scaling the digital community centers.”

The company has installed its technology on microgrid and telecom projects in Puerto Rico, Congo, Kenya, Cameroon, Pakistan and Nepal, among others. New Sun Road has extensive partnerships on projects in the U.S. and Mexico.

The women-led digital community centers are a focus of USTDA’s Global Partnership for Climate-Smart Infrastructure. Since 2021, the agency has funded more than 60 activities aimed at unlocking about $70 billion in climate-focused financing for energy and transportation projects in developing and middle-income countries, according to the USTDA.

Senacyt’s mission in Guatemala, meanwhile, is to promote science and technology initiatives to raise the nation’s development standards.

“USTDA and New Sun Road are like-minded partners, and we deeply appreciate our partnership with them,” Ana Chan, secretary of Senacyt, said. “Together, we will make a difference in the lives of many thousands of Guatemalans.”

Guatemala, Central America’s most populous nation, ranks relatively low on the global economic scale with an average gross domestic product of about $9,800 per capita (compared to $20,000 per-capita GDP for Mexico), according to U.S. News and World Report. Despite its relative lack of wealth, the country already generates much of its power sector from non-fossil resources such as geothermal, hydropower, biofuels and renewables.

In October 2021, New Sun Road detailed its work installing 10 resiliency microgrids in the villages within the Guatemalan Highlands. The microgrids featured solar power and New Sun Road’s Stellar IS systems.

About the Author

Rod Walton, Managing Editor | Managing Editor

For Microgrid Knowledge editorial inquiries, please contact Managing Editor Rod Walton at [email protected].

I’ve spent the last 15 years covering the energy industry as a newspaper and trade journalist. I was an energy writer and business editor at the Tulsa World before moving to business-to-business media at PennWell Publishing, which later became Clarion Events, where I covered the electric power industry. I joined Endeavor Business Media in November 2021 to help launch EnergyTech, one of the company’s newest media brands. I joined Microgrid Knowledge in July 2023. 

I earned my Bachelors degree in journalism from the University of Oklahoma. My career stops include the Moore American, Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise, Wagoner Tribune and Tulsa World, all in Oklahoma . I have been married to Laura for the past 33-plus years and we have four children and one adorable granddaughter. We want the energy transition to make their lives better in the future. 

Microgrid Knowledge and EnergyTech are focused on the mission critical and large-scale energy users and their sustainability and resiliency goals. These include the commercial and industrial sectors, as well as the military, universities, data centers and microgrids. The C&I sectors together account for close to 30 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S.

Many large-scale energy users such as Fortune 500 companies, and mission-critical users such as military bases, universities, healthcare facilities, public safety and data centers, shifting their energy priorities to reach net-zero carbon goals within the coming decades. These include plans for renewable energy power purchase agreements, but also on-site resiliency projects such as microgrids, combined heat and power, rooftop solar, energy storage, digitalization and building efficiency upgrades.

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