A Different Approach
Social Innovations
Social Innovations

We’re looking for partners to help us change the world

If you’re reading this, the chances are that you enjoy access to electricity. And what a blessing electricity is! It makes possible almost everything we enjoy in the modern world. Yet more than 1.5 billion people worldwide are without electricity, and another 1.5 billion do not have reliable access to it. Without electricity 3 billion people are excluded from the modern world and face challenges few of us can even imagine.

It doesn’t have to be this way. We can bring electricity to the people who need it most and change their lives. But there’s no single solution, no silver bullet. Experience has shown us it’s going to take a multi-pronged approach. We’ve got the technology. We know it works. But we’re going to need fresh ideas, fresh thinking, contributions from both local communities and global corporations, and most of all, partnerships with like-minded groups, businesses, and individuals.

With that said, here’s what we’ve learned so far.

Good intentions and money alone won’t solve the problem

Some people believe that solving this problem is simply a matter of money. While bringing electricity to over 3 billion people certainly requires an enormous amount of money, we don’t believe that’s actually the biggest obstacle. The history of rural electrification is littered with well-funded failures from governments, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and companies. In almost all of these cases, there is a recurring pattern: once the equipment has been installed, and these well-intentioned organizations leave, the systems often fall into disrepair. After just a few years, little things like batteries degrade, parts are lost, and when replacement parts cannot be found, the operation grinds to a halt.

We need a different approach

We created SunEdison Social Innovations, an initiative aimed at developing new business models and new technologies that will make renewable energy economically sustainable over the long term, and create positive social and environmental impact as well. 

We’re implementing a number of different business models around the world, and one of the most promising involves working with local entrepreneurs to build locally owned energy service businesses--and maintaining that involvement to ensure the success of each project. We’ve built this business model around three core beliefs:

New business models

1. Only through collaboration with people from local communities can we achieve success.

2. One of the best ways to ensure the success of these projects is to encourage entrepreneurship.

3. There are no quick fixes – everyone must be in it for the long haul.

Local SunEdison staff, on the ground and with first-hand knowledge of the issues, collaborate with entrepreneurs and communities. We help them get their business off the ground, with everything from ready-to-go technology solutions, to business know-how, to financial backing for their loans and access to micro-loans. And we maintain an ongoing presence in the business and provide support to ensure its success over the long term.

This business model provides the community with clean energy, and gives everyone involved the for-profit incentive to maintain energy systems that can last for 20 years or more. It’s a simple concept, but so far it’s working!

Turning Sunshine Into Water
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Solar powered water pumps deliver a cost effective and reliable solution.
Turning Sunshine Into Water
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Solar powered water pumps deliver a cost effective and reliable solution.
Charity is still part of the solution

Just as some people believe that bringing electricity and maintaining ongoing service to billions of people can be solved with charity alone – and we hope we’ve dispelled that myth – some people believe that charity is not part of the solution at all. We would respectfully disagree. Many organizations have proven the effectiveness of what we would call “strategic charity”.

That’s why we’re going beyond our Eradication of Darkness initiative and taking action through the SunEdison Foundation, our charitable organization dedicated to empowering people and improving lives. Our initiatives range from electrification projects in rural India to working with local charities like GRID Alternatives, a US charity that brings solar PV to underprivileged American families in urban centers.

Local charities

The SunEdison Foundation is a leading supporter of organizations like GRID Alternatives, a non-profit organization that provides solar power to low-income families across the United States. That means lower electricity bills, and more money to pay for other necessities--like healthy food, and warm clothing.

SunFarmer

The SunEdison Foundation also provides important funding to SunFarmer, a non-profit organization that provides the capital and technical expertise necessary to bring solar electricity to hospitals, schools, and other important institutions in remote and rural areas.

We’re looking for partners

We’re very proud of our contribution to date – we’ve helped over 100,000 people, from Asia to Africa to America.

But it’s clear that bringing electricity to billions of people will require partnerships – between countries, businesses, and non-profit organizations. We all have to work together. At SunEdison we’re engaged, we’re committed, and we want to magnify our efforts by connecting with others who are equally engaged. So, how can we help?

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