On a hillside in Rio de Janeiro, under the city’s iconic Christ the Redeemer statue, lies the community of Santa Marta. Despite its enviable location, it is poorly connected to the city’s power grid so electricity supplies are unreliable. Local start-up Insolar is changing that.

With the support of Shell, it’s installing solar panels around the community that take advantage of the Rio sunshine and will help bring more and cleaner energy to the local population.

Santa Marta is a community on the rise. It was one of the first communities in Rio to receive public investments for improving security and infrastructure ahead of the 2016 Olympics and has since developed several sustainable businesses.

But one thing that has proved to be a persistent problem is access to reliable and affordable electricity. Shell has collaborated with local start-up Insolar to help provide it.

Founded by Brazilian entrepreneur Henrique Drumond, Insolar aims to empower locals by installing 150 solar panels around Santa Marta.

Taking advantage of the city’s 2,000 hours of sunshine a year, the panels have been put on buildings that benefit the whole community, including nurseries, community centres, and a samba school. The aim is to provide affordable energy so that these organisations can spend more money on things such as books for the children.

Shell and Insolar are also collaborating with the local community and have trained more than 35 residents with the skills to install and maintain the solar panels. So Santa Marta can sustain its solar-powered samba for years to come.

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