is MicroHydro?Micro-hydroelectric systems generate electricity from flowing water without altering the landscape. Instead of building a dam, as with most large hydroelectric systems, microhydro systems simply reroute a portion of the river flow and pass it through a turbine to generate electricity before returning the water to the river. Microhydro is ideal for isolated communities and farms with difficult terrain, and it is a more economical and environmentally friendly way of generating electricity than most other options. For a more extensive explanation of how a microhydro system works, visit our website at www.hiteca-gt.com. (You might want to use Google Translate if you don't speak Spanish).
Guatemala has the perfect landscape for microhydro - the mountainous terrain provides areas of drastic elevation change, and streams and rivers flow generously, offering great natural potential to create energy. Microhydro is not an unknown technology in Guatemala, but we estimate that only 10% of the country's micro-hydro capacity is currently being realized. In addition, many of the existing systems are very old (some were installed in the 1950s), and advances in technology mean that their capacity could be greatly increased. Hiteca has the expertise to fill the large unmet need for high-quality personalized engineering to help communities develop the best micro-hydro systems for their needs.
Our ImpactGuatemala is a country where electricity is scarce, expensive and dirty. This has innumerable economic and social consequences, from high costs of production for the country's small farms and industries to reduced opportunities for education for the poor in remote parts of the country. Small scale renewable energy technologies, particularly micro-hydroelectric systems, have a great potential for changing this situation. A typical microhydro system can provide electricity to a community of 300 people that is too remote to connect to the national grid or help a coffee farmer reduce his energy costs during production by up to 80%.
We are already starting to bring this potential impact to reality. This year we have installed a new control and electrical protection system in a microhydro that serves 250 families, rehabilited a system in a community of 50 families and another in an organic coffee and cardamom farm, and have started the fabrication of a completely new system for a 40 family community in partnership with Engineers Without Borders. In total we are contributing to the generation of 80+ kW of clean electricity for over 300 families.
Who is Hiteca?
We are a startup social enterprise committed to providing renewable energy solutions to families and communities across Guatemala. Founded by husband and wife Steve Crowe and Waleska Aguilar and growing out of their extensive experience in the renewable energy field, Hiteca provides sorely needed clean and affordable energy technologies in a country where energy is normally both dirty and expensive.
Steve is a mechanical engineer who was trained in the United States and, drawn by the rich culture and beautiful landscape of Guatemala, came to the country to work over 8 years ago. During that time, Steve has worked with many organizations including the Appropriate Infrastracture Development Group (AIDG) and Engineers Without Borders developing and implementing renewable energy technologies. Waleska is a Guatemalan born business administrator, trained at a local university and well-versed in the challenges of running a business in Guatemala. Together they founded Hiteca in December 2012 and started working with a special focus on micro-hydroelectric systems.
How YOU can HelpSince we started Hiteca in December we have made a lot of progress, installing and repairing four microhydro systems and doing initial studies for several more. We are continuing to meet more people and do more studies to be able to bring more projects to reality. We are excited by this progress, but we need your help to continue to grow. To take on more projects we need to build a workshop and invest in some key tools and equipment. This will allow us to work more efficiently and provide a higher quality product - helping us to bring clean, affordable electricity to more people all around the country.
By helping us to do this we'll show our thanks by giving you a super-awesome Hiteca t-shirt, coffee coaster, notebook, or tote bag (that's right, you'll be the envy of all your friends. Except of course those that get their own Hiteca stuff). Or if you're really excited by our work and want to see what we do first hand, we'd love to show you around Guatemala and one of our projects! But if you can't donate right now, don't worry, we don't hate you. You can still spread the word about Hiteca and our campaign through Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.
Shipping outside of the U.S. not included in the perks. See the gallery for images of the t-shirts and coasters!