El Alto, Bolivia is one of Latin America’s fastest growing cities. Located in a subtropical highland environment over 13,000 feet above sea level with a population of 1,000,000 (85% indigenous and over 70% of its working population belongs to Bolivia’s “informal economy”) and 2,289 hours of sunshine per year, El Alto is an ideal site for developing innovative, affordable energy options, largely around solar power. This project unites clean energy development expertise from the University of Colorado (CU), the Catholic University of Bolivia (UCB), the Public University of El Alto, Bolivia (UPEA), local experts including LEEP Co-Director Beatriz Garcia, and political leadership from the municipality of El Alto.
LEEP is currently focused on implementing ten pilot solar installations (five this year) to showcase clean energy solutions in largely public spaces, such as hospitals, schools and plazas. We are concurrently developing educational exchange and research programs based on these pilots, uniting students and professors from CU and the Public University of El Alto, Bolivia (UPEA). Building on our first year of planning and initial pilot implementation in two sites, we are in the process of soliciting funding for: (1) implementation of the next pilots, which will bring clean energy solutions to a major public hospital, rural suburb, and central town plaza; and (2) outreach, educational exchange, and research around these pilots. This two-pronged strategy allows us to provide tangible benefits to the people of El Alto, educate the public about solar energy and train students in this new approach, and “learn as we go” from the successful, and less than successful, aspects of this project. Our goal is to learn from real-time policy experimentation and, in turn, to create models and approaches that can be applied throughout El Alto and beyond.