Announces goal to electrify underserved communities at New York Summit on rural electrification
SunEdison, Inc., the world’s largest renewable energy development company, today announced an ambitious plan to electrify 20 million people in underserved communities around the world. The initiative will be led by SunEdison Social Innovations, a global group focused on developing new business models and new technologies which make renewable energy in rural communities economically sustainable over the long term, while also contributing to social and environmental benefits to the community.
“Billions of people worldwide don’t have access to electricity,” said Ahmad Chatila, President and Chief Executive Officer at SunEdison. “Without electricity they can’t access many of the things we take for granted – health clinics with vaccines, or schools with computers and fans. But by applying a mix of new business models, new technology, and charitable donations, we are tackling the issue head on. We are committing to bringing electricity to one million people by the end of 2015, and are targeting to help 20 million people gain access to electricity by 2020.”
The Social Innovations team has already started working toward its goal and has helped more than 250,000 people worldwide through strategic partnerships focused on three key areas: new business models, new technology, and charitable donations.
New business models
SunEdison is developing new ways to bring electricity to the people who need it most through a series of partnerships and innovative business models.
In India, SunEdison and Omnigrid Micropower Company (OMC) are electrifying rural villages by pairing commercial solar customers with local villagers. Telecom companies need their cellular towers powered. Villagers need electricity. A solar electric mini grid providing electricity for both of them is the answer. The mini grid is first built to power the tower – the tower becomes the anchor for the project. With this in place, SunEdison and OMC develop additional mini grid capacity that can be sold to the local villagers. By pairing high credit telecom companies with low to no credit villagers the entire project becomes bankable. It is a mutually beneficial relationship – the telecom companies save money by powering their telecom towers with cost effective solar energy, while the hundreds of families that live around each tower get access to electricity that can be used for lights, fans and mobile phone chargers. With a target of 5,000 solar power plants to