Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science in Biological Engineering

Degree Level



Biological and Agricultural Engineering


Costello, Thomas

Committee Member/Reader

Haggard, Brian

Committee Member/Second Reader

Le, Kieu


Rural electrification through an expansion of the power grid into remote villages in Central America is a development that is still years away. Using renewable energy technology, access to electricity is available even in the most remote areas of the world. These individual power grids are also called “microgrids.” Creating microgrids in rural areas provides the people living there with access to power they did not have before. With this newfound access to power, these communities can expand their access to education, using computers or mobile devices. They can power lights, refrigerators, and other devices to continue development.

The design for a community center that can meet the needs of a developing community was based on a village called Los Chilitos, outside of Cuilapa, Guatemala. These clients wanted to provide power for an internet café (study area) for the students to work on homework, adults have access to the internet, and to have a location close to their homes to charge their cell phones. They wanted a clinic area that can provide first-aid and basic triage care. The clients also wanted a kitchen with multiple work stations to cook food for the children attending school. The clients wanted a place for community members to gather together and socialize, as well as play soccer on a field with lights. Additionally, the community members need more access to water, since their current water well does not provide them with as much as they need.

In the area of study, the most viable source of energy is solar energy. Wind energy in the area would require site-specific wind studies. Hydroelectric power would only be viable if there was a moving water source, which there is not in the area. Using solar energy, a community center with all of the clients' wishes, except the water well, can be run on nine solar panels and 10 batteries. The electrical loads and basic solar supplies would also cost under $15,000, so it could be reasonably fundraised.

This report, my honors thesis in Biological Engineering at the University of Arkansas, was intended to provide a preliminary design to facilitate fund-raising efforts that will lead to implementation.


renewable energy, solar power, development, rural