Involving local stakeholders
Whether rolling out rural electrification capabilities using solar microgrids or installing solar lighting in remote communities, we never stop at project implementation. Our goal is to provide efficient, sustainable technologies that communities can maintain for years.
Collaboration is key to achieving this vision. To that end, our Access to Energy program actively involves local stakeholders, including residents and customers, to bring — and sustain — safe, clean electricity to communities.
These collaborative efforts include:
Offers and business models for the design and deployment of adequate electrical distribution offers via off-grid solutions
Impact investment funds for innovative local energy entrepreneurship
Training (both technical and business) to address local skill shortages
Solar street lighting. Portable lamps. Small power plants. All of our Access to Energy offers and business models respond to the specific energy needs of remote or peri-urban communities and involve local populations to ensure long-term sustainability.
Improving life in off-grid households
Candles for lighting purposes are both costly and dangerous. Thanks to innovation, there are other options. Unveiled at COP22, Schneider Electric’s Homaya solar home systems are portable electrification solutions designed to improve lives in off-grid households throughout Africa and Asia. They provide lighting and solar-powered electricity.
In addition to providing several sources lighting, it offers the possibility to connect low-power devices including mobile phones, fans, radio, and television — opening a new world for many families.
For populations living with less than $1 per day in remote areas of Africa and Asia, who are not yet connected to the grid, new solutions like Homaya are required. These products need to withstand certain conditions such as extreme heat or humidity, while also being affordable. Through its Access to Energy program, Schneider Electric is innovating in product design and business models.
Changing lives in West Africa
In the run-up to COP22 (November 2016), the West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA), Schneider Electric, and the African Biofuel and Renewable Company (ABREC) decided to experiment with a “multi energy” plant for irrigation, fish farming, and farming transformation. This solution, called Microsol™, will be implemented in the eight member states of UEMOA (Benin, Burkina Faso, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Mali, Niger, Senegal, Togo). With Microsol protection modules in place, the three partners want to progressively offer to approximately 100,000 people access to the required electricity without CO2 emission. This “multi energy” plant also can store energy as batteries with a 10-year lifespan.
September 2016 in Lome, Togo: Signature of the contract to implement the Microsol rural electrification solution with ABREC, UEMOA, and Schneider Electric.
Reaching remote communities
Schneider Electric’s solar energy management solutions have made lighting, fans, and clean water available to residents of the remote Pandhry Village in West Bengal, India. Rural electrification enables sustainable development. Previously, farmers were limited due to the high cost of running the diesel-powered water pump, and drinking water was unsafe.
Energy entrepreneurs and inventors can make a big impact on advancing sustainability throughout the world. Schneider Electric invests in innovative projects through the Schneider Electric Energy Access (SEEA) Fund and the Energy Access Ventures (EAV) Fund.
Investment with impact
The Schneider Electric Energy Access (SEEA) investment fund supports small and medium companies with innovative energy solutions and social businesses. For example, at the end of 2015, SEEA invested in ENVIE Rhône Alpes, a member of the ENVIE network that brings together inclusive businesses specialized in collecting, recycling, and destroying used electrical equipment. It has collected 1/3 of waste from French electrical and electronics equipment, treated 90,000 refurbished pieces of equipment, and carried out other waste avoidance projects.
Beyond financial resources, the investment of SEEA in ENVIE Rhône Alpes allowed us to benefit from support during the definition of our development strategy. We appreciate the back-up in implementing the environmental and economic project of our social business. We rely on the relationship with Schneider Electric to improve our industrial and administrative processes and to create new business opportunities.
Promoting access to energy
At present, more than 620 million people (2/3 of the population)1 in sub-Saharan Africa live without access to electricity. In 2015, Schneider Electric launched the Energy Access Ventures (EAV) Fund* to address this crisis. EAV has secured commitments of €54.5 million to transform lives and stimulate economic development across Africa by providing energy access to one million people by 2020.
Harvesting the power of the sun
Only 17 percent of Kenya’s arable land is suitable for rain-fed agriculture2. Supported by EAV, SunCulture’s solar-powered pumps and irrigation systems give small farmers a viable and cost-effective solar energy solution for using the remaining 83 percent of crop-worthy land.
* in partnership with four majoir DFIs
Solar solutions and a water storage tank help improve the capabilities of local farmers.
The first thing we did when we started SunCulture was to spend the first seven months with farmers piloting in the field. We needed to test the product and make sure it worked for farmers in Kenya. We later realized that this was the best thing for SunCulture’s early growth, because this is when farmers told us how to improve our solution. This principle of farmer-led invention and re-invention has shaped the way SunCulture operates today and allows us to create solutions that farmers actually want and need.
Training in energy management and electricity trades doesn’t provide just a skill set. It gives participants a new way of life, ultimately to better support their families. Energy entrepreneurship is another path toward sustainability energy for all.
Fostering the entrepreneurial spirit
Entrepreneurship is a new dimension of Schneider Electric’s Access to Energy Training program. In 2016, we trained 212 entrepreneurs in six countries: Brazil, Cameroon, Nigeria, Egypt, Vietnam, and Lebanon.
The main challenge for our program today is scaling up or finding projects that will increase our impact. We are engaged in a policy of long-term collaboration able to replicate our efforts. Our goal is to support one million young people by 2025.
Starting a business in Brazil
Since 2016, Schneider Electric Brazil and the Schneider Electric Foundation have supported women’s entrepreneurship in the energy field. Trainees (both men and women) receive at least 140 hours of technical and entrepreneurship training to launch their small businesses.
Discover one of our projects through the voice of participants.
It was really encouraging to see that women were getting involved and that they were sometimes even more courageous than the men when launching into something new. The groups are mixed to change mindsets, so men see women in a new light and realize that they, too, can be electricians!
A new generation of investors
Energy Generation, a non-profit organization, helps young entrepreneurs develop their energy access projects. The Schneider Electric Foundation supports the group’s Africa Energy Generation Prize, a pan-African competition for inventors of unconventional energy-generating solutions. With the help of Schneider Electric Togo Teachers, the new Energy Generation Academy, based in Lomé, enables selected inventors to develop their projects, technical know-how, and managerial skills.
“I am particularly proud and happy to have Schneider Electric among my main partners. We definitely share the same values and we will offer training of excellence to young people,” says Astria Fataki, Director, Energy Generation.
Contributing to the skill equity
In October 2016, Schneider Electric partnered with the Government of India to contribute to the skill equity of the country, thanks to the agreement to set up a Center of Excellence focused on power, solar, and automation, and to support the setting up of 100 electrician labs. Skill development is a key requirement of a robust economy to improve productivity and output through nurturing talent. Schneider Electric is contributing significantly to developing skilled individuals in the electricity field and to make India self-reliant in the energy sector.
The Indian National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) and the Power Sector Skill Council (PSSC) have partnered with the Schneider Electric Foundation to support training activities.