Back To Our Work

Financing Small­scale Renewable Energy Solutions For Rural Households

Location: San Jose, Costa Rica
Catapult Service Line: Education
Thematic Area: Energy


In 2009, President Obama invited all governments in the western hemisphere to join the Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas (ECPA) in an effort to confront global climate change. In response, the Peace Corps increased its emphasis on renewable energy projects and partnered with USAID and the US Department of State to fund innovative renewable energy projects with their volunteers. These efforts resulted in an ongoing need to develop and refine training materials for Peace Corps volunteers to aid them in their renewable energy work and understand which technologies are appropriate for low­income households in the communities in which they serve.

“Families in the communities we work with want to purchase solar lamps to replace kerosene, but they can’t afford them. How can we help them find a way?”

There is a lot of information about how to build technology solutions, yet less on how to successfully implement these solutions for low­income households in a sustainable manner. The Peace Corps needed to equip volunteers with the knowledge, tools, and skills that they need to implement financially and culturally sustainable technology solutions within their target communities.


The Peace Corps asked Catapult to redesign their training materials with a specific focus on renewable energy and appropriate financing models for staff and volunteers working in Costa Rica. Our work included:

  • reviewing the Peace Corps’ training materials on renewable energy and identifying the gaps between the technological, social, and financial aspects of implementing renewable energy solutions
  • developing curricula and activities for a three-day workshop
  • facilitating a workshop in San Jose using household technologies (e.g cookstoves, flashlights, solar home systems, biodigesters) as primary examples to demonstrate appropriate technology-cultural fit
  • designing lessons focused on design skills, behavioral economics, stakeholder mapping, and business model planning relevant to the adoption of renewable energy products and technologies
  • developing curriculum for two one-day training for trainers sessions (one for solar photovoltaics and one for biogas) to be conducted by Peace Corps staff for their volunteers into the future


As a part of our effort, the Peace Corps worked with host governments and international, national, and local partners to train community leaders and to facilitate small-scale projects to reduce carbon emissions, improve health, improve access to energy in rural communities, and create generation opportunities for individuals and small business in rural areas. Catapult created and disseminated user-centered, hands-on training materials to Peace Corps staff and volunteers, and all participants successfully completed three days of training.