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Award winning water wheel project receives further funding from the European Union (EU) to extend its reach to more isolated regions of rural Peru. [please contact me for website address] Five water wheels generating electricity and pumping water have been installed in rural areas of Peru The project "Designing, testing and selling high efficiency water wheels", one of the winners of the 2009 IDEAS Energy Innovation Contest funded by GVEP International, received a significant subsidy of 1.5 million Euros to continue implementing their plans in rural areas of the country. The proposal presented to the European Union aims to create a series of mini-grid systems with river generators in rural communities in high Andean areas. The systems will generate electricity for domestic use and will provide water for irrigation to more than 6,500 residents of 32 communities in Cusco and Huancavelica. The project not only aims to bring basic services to the population, but also to enable local people to produce, install and maintain their own wheels. For Miguel Hadzich, Director of the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru (PUCP) Rural Support Group, this new European subsidy is highly significant for the poorest villages of the mountainous areas of Cusco and Huancavelica. "It is unlikely that electricity will ever reach these 32 isolated communities, as they are so far from the national electricity grid, making it unprofitable for utility companies. These mini-grid systems are providing them with the opportunity to have electricity in their homes and even water pumps". Hadzich also pointed out that, thanks to the IDEAS contest and GVEP, "people realised the potential of water wheel technology and now they are beginning to use it. Had we not had the support of GVEP to design and test the wheels, it would not have been possible to take this second important step". GVEP International, with their partners the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the German Development Cooperation (GIZ), launched the IDEAS contest in 2009 to promote access to modern energy services through support and funding offered to local companies to carry out profitable and sustainable business. "Our grant supported the development of the prototype of the high efficiency wheels, as well as training programmes to enable people in rural areas to construct and install their own wheels, hence guaranteeing the sustainability of the project", says Pedro Gamio, Regional Director of GVEP International for Latin America. "This new grant from the European Union is an acknowledgment that this winning idea has great value", added Gamio. Since receiving its first GVEP funding, the Rural Support Group of PUCP has installed a total of five water wheels, on the Peruvian coast and in the mountains, and they have also trained 28 people, from technicians able to maintain the wheels to people who understand how best to use them. In Cusco, for example, three water wheels have been installed, each 1.8m in diameter. This type is called 'Overshot', where the water falls from a pipe above the wheel, and is able to produce 1.44 kW of energy, enough to cover the electricity needs of five families. The wheel also pumps 14 cubic meters of water, thereby helping to improve the fields for livestock of local farmers. With the new funding of the EU 32 more water wheels will be installed.Another example of how the wheel can be used in a productive manner can be seen in the coffee-producing area of Huiro, in Cusco. Here, 16 families pulp the coffee beans with the energy generated by the water wheels. Before, in order to pulp 1,000 kilos of coffee they needed not only to buy fuel but also to work extremely hard for 15 days. Now, with the wheel, the same quantity can be pulped in three days and there is no need to buy fuel. As regards carbon savings, the Rural Support Group of PUCP has calculated that, with the five wheels already installed in Peru, 1.68t of CO2 have been saved. Miguel Hadzich is assured that the wheels will be sustainable in the long term because "both GVEP and the EU adopt the same sustainability scheme. We are teaching small companies to handle their own repairs and maintenance of the wheels, as well as their own future sales, as we provide them with technical and business management skills". In Cusco, these wheels are already being reproduced independently by local companies that have been trained by the project. In addition, there are already three trained technicians able to keep them in good working order. Now, with the EU funding, all these benefits will certainly be replicated elsewhere. In accordance with the plans, in the space of four years, the PUCP will install 32 river generators that will pump water and provide light for 16 communities or populated areas of Cusco and another 16 in Huancavelica – regions that are not included in the rural electrification projects of the State. "The interesting thing about the wheels is that they are an ancient technology that had been superseded by oil", says Miguel Hadzich. "And now, whether the water falls or flows on them, these high efficiency wheels have the power shed light in extremely isolated places at a very affordable cost". In this latest EU's call for proposal, there was a specific section dedicated to energy in which "innovation, clarity, relevance to the country and ability to cover the region's needs were evaluated ". The 32-wheel project, among the three selected for Latin America and the only one in Peru, stood out "for its innovative model that allows people to take advantage of the resources in the Andean areas, its low cost and ability to be replicated in other rural areas of the country and other situations elsewhere in the world". "The project is a priority as regards the use and promotion of renewable energy", said Jean-Charles Fiehrer, Head of the Cooperation for Development section of the EU in Peru. "It responds well to local and regional needs and also to one of the priorities of the Thematic Programme for the Environment, Water and Energy of the European Commission, which is the use of sustainable energy sources". In addition to the installation of 32 machines in the areas most in need in Cusco and Huancavelica, the PUCP group plans to construct communal teaching centres. These are dedicated to technology transfer and to skills development among the population, as well as the training of community leaders, according to the local Yachachiq methodology. With this, trained individuals will be able to construct, install, use and maintain clean energy technology, adaptable to the population’s needs, as well as impart such knowledge to their own people. “This project deserves this new funding, because it offers an effective alternative for development in places where government interventions rarely reach,” says Pedro Gamio from GVEP.