Opportunities for Solar Development and Marketing Abroad

Worldwide, 1.3 billion people have no access to electricity, and an additional 1 billion are without reliable access to electricity. The International Energy Agency and United Nations Development Programme estimates that 85-percent of people who lack electricity live in rural areas. Energy poverty plagues vulnerable communities, leaving them in darkness with poor health conditions, inadequate schooling, and minimal economic mobility. Renewable energy is a practical solution to delivering power to rural and impoverished areas.

Despite the rapid growth of renewable energy industries, the World Bank reports that solar—along with wind, geothermal, waste, and marine energy—contributes barely one-percent of global energy demand. As passionate members of the renewable energy movement, we have all witnessed first hand the improvements solar energy can make in our local communities. When utilized by energy-poor populations, solar generates an even greater impact. Access to clean, reliable energy is fundamental to human development and an investment in our planet’s collective future.

As the solar industry matures, the expertise required to integrate high-quality, off-grid systems becomes more specialized and costly. For populations living on a few dollars a day, the necessary capital to install solar can be a major obstacle to acquiring access to clean, reliable energy. Solutions are needed that connect energy-poor communities with the expertise, equipment and financial resources needed to easily integrate solar. Coupled with monetary contributions, donations of expertise, labor, and equipment we can alleviate the financial burden of installing solar in these developing, rural areas.

The unification of the solar industry to advocate for and assist with these humanitarian efforts is critical for their ultimate success. Volunteering their expertise, PV engineers and installers can assist with the design and implementation of systems for organizations that meet set giving standards: proven programming, strong local ties, and a clear sense of enthusiasm for renewable energy. Volunteer efforts are rewarded with the opportunity to commission the system and see firsthand the fruits of their labor. Additionally, partnerships with solar manufacturers are key to maintaining a sustainable model. Equipment investments provide the high-quality products needed to extend the system lifespan and representing the industry in high regard, while mitigating financial barriers. Working in remote areas of the world, these projects also allow for the assessment of new markets, in turn fueling the growth of the solar industry worldwide.

In addition to aligning a brand with worthy organizations, partnerships between manufacturers and non-profits have compelling business generating benefits. Professional photos and aerial video footage of the installation process and finished array can be incorporated into marketing materials to showcase products in an off-grid setting. Further acknowledgement opportunities include product and brand recognition in a formal project recap video that is distributed on a local and national level. With live monitoring of the system, product functionality and testimonials can be utilized for case studies and marketing of product off-grid capabilities. Unified support from the industry will expand solar’s reach, thereby increasing and eventually achieving global energy independence.

Twende Solar, formed by employees of Elemental Energy, is seeking to fill the energy void in energy deficient populations by addressing the issues discussed above. Twende, meaning “let’s go” in Swahili, aims to empower underserved populations through clean and reliable energy systems. Twende has years of experience working with a variety of non-profits to design and install systems in some of the most remote parts of the world. Collectively these projects and donations of resources and expertise have improved thousands of lives in developing nations.

Through the generous support of Outback Power, SolarWorld, and SunModo, Twende Solar is underway with plans to install its most ambitious project to date: a 26kW PV system on the recently constructed Stephen Mazujian Middle School in Siem Reap, Cambodia. This off-grid system will support a new computer lab, classroom lights and fans, and other upgraded academic amenities— equipping nearly a thousand Cambodian students with the academic and life skills necessary to find personal and professional success.

As Twende strives to empower communities with clean energy, it also seeks diverse collaboration with all members of the solar industry. Twende welcomes all contributions; whether it be expertise, ideas, projects, donations, or pure enthusiasm, Twende realizes it takes a village to create positive change.

To learn more about our work and how to get involved, join us for the Global Sustainability: Solar Development & Marketing Opportunities Abroad OSEC session on Wednesday, May 4th at 4:00 PM or visit www.twendesolar.org . Let’s go solar, together!