ECAMI (Empresa de Comunicaciones, S.A.) is a renewable energy business based in Nicaragua, selling solar PV, wind power and hydroelectric systems. ECAMI was founded in 1982 by Luis Lacayo Lacayo, to supply radio communications equipment in rural areas of Nicaragua where infrastructure had been destroyed during the prolonged civil conflict and revolution. Photovoltaics (PV) were the ideal way of powering this equipment, because there was no grid electricity. Many other opportunities for PV became apparent to Lacayo, like home lighting, battery-charging, water pumping and refrigeration. Over the years the provision of renewable energy systems became more important than communications and is now the main activity of ECAMI.
ECAMI routinely supplies and installs solar-homes PV systems in rural areas. ECAMI designs and installs PV-powered mini grids to provide power for homes, hotels, museums and planned health centers in small communities. Underground distribution systems connect all the users to the supply, with individual current limits to each facility. ECAMI installs PV supply systems for mobile phone masts, with considerable savings in fuel diesel.
In Managua, the capital of Nicaragua, six hotels have been supplied with solar water heating systems by ECAMI. One with 50 m2 of panel area supplies 100 rooms each of which had previously required a 6 kW immersion heater, another with 16 m2 of panels supplies 40 rooms. About 150 domestic solar water-heaters have also been installed.
ECAMI supplies and installs small wind turbines of between 400 W and 5 kW output, and can also install hydro-electric system.
The benefits of the thousands of renewable energy systems installed by ECAMI are considerable: more than 100,000 people have been benefited in Nicaragua while the use of CO emitting fuels and air pollution is being reduced. The social and economic benefits are perceived through longer hours of emergency service in health centers, the installations of water pumps that bring drinking water to distant communities, the access of satellite internet, land irrigation, longer and more efficient working hours, etc.
Luis Lacayo's wife Claudia, a lawyer, joined ECAMI in 1997 to manage the administration and contracts, and their son Max Lacayo, also a lawyer, is now the marketing director.
On June 11, 2009, in London, HRH Prince Charles, Prince of Wales presented Max Lacayo The Ashden Energy Enterprise Award for ECAMI's achievements, particularly for the installation of high quality photovoltaic systems in rural and off-grid areas. The Ashden Awards are an internationally recognised yardstick for excellence in the field of sustainable energy.
ECAMI is a GVEP (Global Village Energy Partnership] partner. Other memberships include: International Solar Energy Society (ISES), ANPPER Nicaraguan Association of Renewable Energy Promoters and Products, and ANPPER Nicaraguan Association of Renewable Energy Promoters and Products. ECAMI has work agreements with similar foreign companies: Curin Corporation (USA), Isratec (Guatemala), Energy & Systems (Canada), etc.