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Case Study

Large-scale PV means sweet success for Los Cuervos citizens

Setting the scene

Ejido Los Cuervos, in the heart of Aguascalientes, Mexico, faces the same pressing challenges as other isolated rural communities. Degraded natural resource threaten agriculture, while infrastructure and market access leave much to be desired. Renewable energy, particularly solar thanks to the high solar resource in Mexico, is a key part of the solution.

Therefore, when BayWa r.e. proposed to build one of the country’s biggest solar parks, we decided to challenge ourselves. How much social, economic, and environmental benefit for local communities could one project deliver?

To address these issues and promote environmental sustainability and biodiversity, BayWa r.e. Mexico Solar Projects partnered with local organisations and the community to develop the Solar Honey Project.

Meeting the challenges

At the time, this project was to be Mexico’s fourth-largest PV installation. The logistics of delivering a project like this, in a remote area during the COVID-19 pandemic, would challenge any organisation. Nonetheless, the BayWa r.e. project development team got the job done – they built the solar park and also delivered benefits to the local community.

The project involved reforesting 175 acres of land next to the solar park, which helped reintroduce native plant species and convinced pollinators to make a return, including bees!

To make sure everyone in the area benefitted, we partnered with Mexican beekeeping and biodiversity experts, APINOVA, to develop the Solar Honey Project. Local families were trained by APINOVA in beekeeping, hive maintenance, harvesting of honey, and business operations and sales aiming for long-term social and economic success.

In an area with a rich tradition of family-owned farming, the idea was popular. But realising a vision of this scale is easier said than done.

Building trust with authentic mutual commitment

Resource drain is a problem in rural Mexico. Insecure local economies force many working-age people, mostly men, to leave their homes and follow opportunities elsewhere.

That could be an issue here, given the level of investment needed in each prospective new beekeeper. The solution was to take the lead and show our own trust in the project’s huge potential. BayWa r.e. and APINOVA made a joint commitment, alongside local families, to collaborate on the Solar Honey Project for at least five years.

That immediately gave people confidence that BayWa r.e. was genuinely interested in making this project a sustainable reality for their community.

The result

This 269 MWp solar park now generates enough renewable energy per year to supply electricity to more than 350,000 Mexican homes. It also helps combat climate change by avoiding more than 240.000 tons of CO2 annually. But the real beauty of this story goes beyond what BayWa r.e. typically achieves with utility-scale solar alone.

Creating a buzz around renewable energy

20 families are now working with their new bee neighbours in 400 established hives. Each beehive produces an estimated 48 kg of honey annually, translating to an estimated annual added income of €2,418 (US$2,640) per family.

Alongside green energy, the community now has a new income generating business for the future. A future which is now inseparable from the global energy transition and all the benefits it brings.

Sharing land with agricultural activities is an additional benefit of renewable energy to achieve long-term sustainability. These kinds of commitments drive real change for communities who need it most. The people living near our projects should benefit, that’s very much the case at Los Cuervos.

Edith Guerrero
Senior Manager of Corporate Sustainability, BayWa r.e. Americas

Our projects are more successful when the local communities feel the positive effects too. With the Solar Honey Project, we took a fresh look at how much we could give back. The beekeeping initiative, alongside APINOVA, has been a huge social and economic success.

Gema Martinez
Development Manager, BayWa r.e. Americas

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