Earth Day 2020 is the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day.

Earth Day 2020Earth Day 2020 is the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day although unfortunately, the world is facing global sustainability issues such as COVID 19, climate change, and other issues.
Achieving sustainability is a work in progress and calls for a constant evolution of technologies, ideas, and concepts to develop solutions that are practical and effective. Sustainability solutions will be resilient and focused on overcoming technical and policy barriers that prevent the uptake of sustainability in different sectors of society.

As of today, the world is experiencing some of the pressing global challenges that we probably have not experienced in our lifetimes. Clearly, technology will not or does not provide all the answers that we need today, however, it will help to speed up or assist in moving us towards a sustainable path. Technological solutions are just one part of the big picture as other solutions include policy, regulations, sustainable business as well as innovative financing options that are effective to promote sustainability from a systems’ perspective.

Technology can be broadly defined as the entities, both material and conceptual created by the application of mental and physical effort to achieve some value. Technological change, on the other hand, can refer to several yet compatible concepts involving an improvement in technology or technological progress. According to Rogers (2003), the idea of technological change underpins a social process involving adopters and others who are profoundly affected by its cultural setting, political institutions, and marketing strategies.

Sustainability calls for new concepts and ideas to reverse, for instance, the effects of climate change. Solar photovoltaics (PV) is just one of many of the new technologies to help in sustainability efforts. IRENA notes that renewables such as solar PV and energy efficiency offer a safe, reliable, and affordable way to achieve massive decarbonization in line with keeping the rise in global temperatures “well below 2°C”. IRENA’s analysis shows the combination of renewables, energy efficiency and increased electrification could achieve 90% of the reductions needed in energy-related emissions.

wind power
Renewables are also becoming cost-effective and with time we have seen for example solar power at grid parity. Grid parity is the point when the cost of alternative energy becomes equal to or less than electricity from conventional energy forms like fossil fuels. As such, renewable energy subsidies are now been phased out, and, in the USA for instance, the investment tax credit (ITC) to support consumers in switching to solar was reduced at the beginning of this year from 30% to 26%.

Now, the solar investment tax credit is available to homeowners in some form through 2021. In 2020 & 2021 owners of new residential and commercial solar can deduct 26% or 22% of the cost of the system from their taxes respectively. The ITC will then be reduced to 10% available for only owners of new commercial solar energy systems while there will be no federal credit for residential solar energy systems’.

Furthermore, IRENA’s analysis of renewable energy shows that the cost of electricity from renewable energy technologies has fallen steadily and even dramatically in recent years, and since 2000, especially for solar and wind generation and are now seen as viable commercial options. Also, power generation from renewable sources and technologies has become competitive with fossil-based or nuclear power.

biogas technology

Food waste is another issue that has become a huge sustainability issue over the last decade. In particular, food waste is a major source of methane (CH4) which is one of the most potent gases that is causing climate change. If food waste were a country, it would come in third after the United States and China in terms of impact on global warming. Hence, reducing food waste around the world would help curb emissions of planet-warming gases, lessening some of the impacts of climate change such as more extreme weather and rising seas.

With these sustainability challenges, it is clear that Earth Day 2020 presents us with an opportunity to contribute to efforts of fighting sustainability issues facing planet Earth and there so many solutions as we have captured above. Here at reneenergy.com, we want to thank you for your continued support and for subscribing to our blog posts. Thank you again. Please subscribe below if you haven’t to keep you posted about our blog posts.



How and where to dispose of batteries in a sustainable way?

where to dispose batteriesThe battery technology just like solar PV technology continues to advance and today there are various types of batteries being used to help power equipment or store energy for electricity. As the solar PV sector continues to grow whether with on-grid or off-grid solar applications; the battery technology will help to accelerate the increased adoption of solar PV in domestic, commercial and utility sectors and other renewable energy technologies that are intermittent in nature like the wind energy.
Similarly, with the rapid development of electric cars in various countries, it means that we will see the demand for battery technology continue to grow exponentially. Solar PV and electric vehicles(EV) will definitely demand increased usage of the battery technology among other sectors that require batteries such as agricultural, commercial or even the household sector where batteries are used for TV remotes, flashlights, children’s toys and small electronics like cellphones.

However, even with these technological developments; how and where to dispose of batteries after their useful life is completed is one aspect of sustainability that will need to be tackled from a system thinking perspective. At the development stage of these batteries, it calls for implementing sustainable design to make it easy to recycle most of the components of the battery technology in question. For instance, researchers at the IBM research unveiled recently a new battery technology that will eliminate the need for heavy metals in battery production hence improving sustainable design.

As such, before looking into proper ways of disposing batteries, it is good to know what batteries are, the different types of batteries, and what they are made up of, making them something that requires proper disposal. Well, batteries are a collection of one or a group of cells that undergo various chemical reactions to create a continuous flow of electrons in a circuit.

Battery cells are generally classified into three components that is the anode, also known as the negative electrode, cathode, also known as the positive electrode, and finally, the electrolytes. For sustainability, the battery chemical composition will matter as it will guide how a battery will be disposed of after its useful life. For instance, in the USA, when it comes to lead-acid batteries, 99% of these batteries are collected and recycled.

However, according to the World Economic Forum, recycling lithium-ion batteries is a bit challenging due to the diversity of cell types and the broad range of materials such as an alloy of cobalt, nickel, and copper that may require manual sorting and handling or even smelting (pyrometallurgy) to recover individual metals or battery raw materials such as cobalt carbonate.

Types of batteries

There are many types of batteries classified according to their chemical composition, formation factor, size, and the purpose they serve. They include:

  1. Primary batteries: These are a kind of batteries that cannot be recharged once fully used. These batteries are made up of electrochemical cells that their electrochemical reactions can also not be reversed. This kind of battery is usually used in devices that require no charging. Primary batteries are made up in a way that they provide high specific energy, and whenever used, the devices consume little power to ensure the battery has a long life span. The most common kind of primary batteries is alkaline batteries. They have higher specific energy levels, are environmentally friendly, and are cheaper to purchase.
  2. Secondary batteries are the direct opposite of primary batteries. Secondary batteries can be recharged, and their electrochemical cells and electrochemical reactions can be reversed when all the energy has been fully used up. The secondary batteries are commonly known as the rechargeable batteries. Secondary batteries can be classified into different groups depending on their chemistry or chemical composition.
    1. Lithium-ion: they are also known as Li-ion batteries. They are used in smart devices such as mobile phones and other battery home appliances. It has Lithium electrodes on it.
    2. Nickel Cadmium: Also known as Ni-Cd batteries. They are made up of nickel oxide hydroxide chemical and the metallic cadmium as the electrodes.
    3. Nickel-Metal hydride. This kind of batteries has the same chemical reaction to Ni-Cd batteries, which is nickel oxide hydroxide. Although, a negative electrode uses hydrogen-absorbing alloy, but not cadmium like the Ni-Cd batteries.solar battery
    4. Lead-acid batteries: Lead-acid batteries are cheaper efficient power batteries that are used in heavy-duty applications. They are usually used in instances where they are non-portable because of their weight. Lead-acid batteries are used in an application that includes vehicle batteries for ignition and lighting and also as solar-panel energy stores. Lead-acid batteries are made up of acid that is used to ensure proper current flow in the circuit. Lead-acid batteries are the oldest form of secondary batteries and are relatively cheap compared to the other secondary batteries.

where to dispose batteries

Where to dispose of batteries

Batteries are disposed of depending on the type which determines their chemical composition.

a) Household batteries: Household batteries can be classified into two groups, either rechargeable or non-rechargeable batteries. Disposing of the household batteries is not as complicated as disposing of the vehicle and industrial batteries.

According to battery solutions, alkaline batteries (AAA, AA, C, D, 9V, etc.) can be recycled using a specialized “room temperature,” mechanical separation process to recycle alkaline batteries.

The alkaline battery components are separated into three end products, that is, a zinc and manganese concentrate, steel, and paper, plastic and brass fractions. All of these products are put back into the market place for reuse in new products to offset the cost of the recycling process.

However, when it comes to rechargeable batteries, for example, lithium batteries are recyclable. They can, therefore, be disposed of at the battery recycling centers, electronic retailers who recycle batteries, or a waste collection site for hazardous materials. Therefore, ensuring you dispose of batteries properly.

b) Industrial batteries.

Industrial batteries can also be referred to as forklift or traction batteries. Industrial batteries can normally be drained to about 20% of the maximum charging capacity before a recharge.

Industrial batteries are manufactured with lead plates making them not disposable in the trash. Lead is considered to be a hazardous waste that is highly toxic to the environment. So when it comes to the industrial batteries, an estimated 60 to 80 percent of the used battery is normally reclaimed. More than 95 percent of the industrial lead-acid batteries are recycled.

The outer plastic shell is recycled to make some new plastic items, whereas the metal plates undergo purification to manufacture new batteries. In most states, there is a law that accepts the return of the industrial batteries to the retailer for disposal purposes. In case one cannot trace the retailer, they can contact the government officials for the information on the directions to follow to ensure proper disposal of the industrial batteries, industrial batteries maybe containing sulphuric acid that is harmful.

Safety precaution is normally advised when transporting the batteries for disposal. One should also avoid exposing the batteries to open flames or incidental devices like the cigarette lighters just for precaution measures.

c) Vehicle batteries: Car batteries are made out of lead-acid which is hazardous. It is, therefore, essential to dispose of it carefully just to avoid harmful side effects that can be life-threatening to human beings. There are many ways to dispose of vehicle batteries.
where to dispose batteries

  • Returning the battery to a retailer. When purchasing the battery, there is normally a core charge fee certain retailers usually add in the receipts. This charge means that the battery is essential to the retailer. It can either be recycled or be rebuilt. Meaning that you can return the battery to the retailers, and they refund back your money with the same amount you paid as a core charge fee.
  • Taking the car battery to a recycling depot: You can check on the closest designated recycling depots near you on the internet and dispose of your car battery there for disposals.
  • Taking the car battery to an auto parts store: You can make your take battery to an auto parts store as you go buy another one.
  • Selling the car battery to scrap metal depot: One can decide to sell their batteries off to the scrap metal depot near them at a fee.
  • Taking the car batteries to battery recycling centers where they can recycle them and make something good out of them.

Each state has its own recycling program while resources such as Earth911 have a comprehensive online platform for helping online users decide on how to dispose of old batteries. Earth911 provides a recycling locator for all types of batteries where you just enter your zip code and it pulls the details for your specific battery and how or where to recycle them.

Call2Recycle is another online resource that offers a network of over 34,000 local recycling centers and drop-off locations for rechargeable batteries such as local municipalities and local retailers like Best Buy.

Save 50% on the select product(s) with promo code 50UVHPUW on Amazon.com

Future of solar in a smart building.

smarthomeBecause of the volatility of global oil prices, the cost of energy will continue to increase proportionately and especially when our energy demand continues to depend on finite fossil fuels. Similarly, the cost of energy for an average building in the USA or globally will continue to increase proportionately when the main source is from fossil fuels because the price for energy continues to increase due to volatility of oil prices. Solar PV and increased connectivity is an option that seems very promising and could help to reduce or mitigate the issue of climate change and increasing energy prices.

The advent of AI in energy management

Artificial intelligence technologyThe advent of new technologies such as big data analytics, machine learning and Artificial Intelligence (AI), robotics and blockchain allows for smart building energy management systems that can provide monitoring made possible through the Internet of Things (IoT), advanced data analytics and via wireless connections.

Looking in the future, solar is likely to be sold as a core part of the smart building concept that includes a building energy management system, energy storage, Electric Vehicle (EV) charging and smart appliances. This makes more sense because sourcing all the energy from solar will help to save more money and help to achieve sustainability. Also, EV and smart appliances can help to balance the grid for instance, electric vehicles can be used as temporary storage to connected appliances to reduce power usage when needed.

IoTAlso, in the energy management space, lighting and HVAC integration are the two most common systems integrated into the smart building strategy to reduce the energy footprint, but the IoT industry has opened the door to more sensors and hence increased intelligence through data collection. Some of the most common IoT sensors have applications for smart metering, occupancy sensors, water detection, humidity sensors, contact sensors, and carbon monoxide detection among many others.

Internet of Things

The whole idea of making your building smart is to allow you to make more informed decisions about the building based on the data it provides. Data is aggregated via IoT (Internet of Things) controls and sensors in a web-based platform that can be monitored, controlled and acted upon in real-time or perhaps using your cellphone. The main advantage of having a smart building is to help facility and property managers gain insight into the detailed workings of their locations and gather useful data to improve building performance and efficiency.

Advantages of integrating solar in a smart building:

  •  Smart buildings utilize machine learning algorithms and can be able to forecast your energy consumption and through demand response mechanisms solar consumption by the building can be increased in times of high solar generation and vice-versa. Through IoT smart appliances can be remotely controlled digitally to adopt on-site demand. For instance, heat pumps, heat storage batteries and air conditioning units can be optimized with solar generation and be a way of using excess solar electricity as heat.
  • Battery storage and smart electric vehicle charging when integrated with solar PV could significantly increase solar consumption for some households and businesses and especially when solar PV is combined with battery storage.
  • Deep machine learning and artificial intelligence when integrated with your smart appliances and solar can help to forecast and manage generation and consumption as well as voice activation technology to make systems more user-friendly.
  • Generally, smart buildings through optimization increase energy efficiency, comfort and safety and with solar PV, more energy is saved reducing your energy footprint.

This article explained how the smart building concept can help to reduce energy consumption and allow for the integration of solar PV, EV charging and IoT helping you reduce your energy footprint to achieve sustainability. However, a key question is whether these smart building technologies can currently pay for themselves? Do they currently increase or decrease the return on investment on installation when combined with solar?  EnergySage is a great starting point to help you figure out your energy savings when it comes to going solar.

AI and Sustainability.

 

sustainability

By 2020, the Fourth Industrial Revolution will be characterized by many technological developments, including but not limited to advanced robotics, autonomous transport, AI, and Machine Learning, advanced materials, biotechnology, and genomics. On the other hand, despite these technological advancements, the world is also experiencing some of the most challenging sustainability issues ever experienced by planet earth such as climate change.

Smart technology combined with AI can help individuals and businesses manage their environmental impact. AI and smart technology can help to collect, analyze data using machine learning to help monitor and improve energy consumption, water consumption while increasing operational efficiency because of lowered of reducing costs and material waste. As such, it is worthwhile to learn how big data and AI can be applied in the industrial, energy, agricultural and water sectors to help monitor and reduce material, water, and energy wastage while increasing operational efficiency.

Below we capture some interesting case studies for how some start-up companies (C3, Falkonry, FogHorn, Sight Machine, SparkCognition, Uptake, Zymergen, Foris.io™, etc) in the industrial sector, as well as well-established companies such as ABB, GE, Siemens, IBM, Honeywell, Hewlett Packard Enterprises, are implementing interesting AI concepts in their respective sectors to help achieve sustainability. National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) is a government research body that is also helping to shape AI and its implementation in the energy sector.

Application of AI in the Industrial Sector.

A combination of software and hardware technology with the use of AI and machine learning is beginning to enter the market and some businesses have adopted such technology to help them manage and improve their environmental performance while saving money.data science for sustainability

For instance, in the industrial sector in the US has experienced a high growth of the use of AI-enabled devices to help improve operational efficiency, reduce materials waste, predict interruptions, take advantage of predictive maintenance and optimize resource consumption. The use of AI technology in the industrial sector grows every year at a rate of nearly 65% through 2024.

In the energy sector, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in collaboration with Hewlett Packard Enterprises have developed AI and machine learning technologies to automate and improve operational efficiency, including resiliency and energy usage for data centers. This concept helps to reduce energy consumption and lower operating costs through monitoring and predictive analytics in power and cooling systems for HP data centers.

Application of AI in the Energy Sector.

As such, historical data (about 16 terabytes of data) collected from sensors in NREL”s supercomputers are used to train models for anomaly detection to predict and prevent issues before they occur.

This collaboration will help to address future water and energy consumption as early results based on the models trained with historical data have successfully predicted or identified events that previously occurred and thus can be replicated in other data centers.

Also, AI coupled with smart sensors or devices can help to reduce building energy consumption by up to 30% using accurate sensing and predictive analytics according to Department of Energy (DOE) studies.

Furthermore, ABB has developed machine learning algorithms to predict unplanned peaks in power consumption and identify strategies to prevent them. According to ABB, its Energy Forecasting AI uses neural network methods to identify and learn patterns in a circuit or a building’s energy consumption, while also factoring weather data.

As such, using weather forecasts and historical data, ABB’s Energy forecasting is then able to predict power consumption(kW) for the next 24 hours, updating its forecast every 15 minutes with best-in-class accuracy. This ABB system through accurate power consumption prediction will enable facility managers to take full advantage of Time of Use (TOU) tariffs and to take timely action to reduce unplanned consumption.data science and renewable energy

With regard to renewable energy, the application of AI and machine learning can help to solve the intermittent nature of wind and solar power that may bring about grid stability issues. Currently, pumped hydro or batteries (energy storage) is employed to solve this intermittent nature of renewable energy.

However, the grid will be more stable when AI and machine learning algorithms are employed with renewable energy to predict or forecast when the amount of solar or wind power goes down so that the power stored can kick in. This can help to avoid expensive or use of fossil fuel-powered standby generators.

Application of AI in the Agricultural Sector.

Similarly, smart sensors and AI can be applied by farmers that have connectivity to save water, energy, fertilizer and pesticide usage. One great example of a company that is implementing the Internet of Things (IoT) to bring improvement in energy and sustainability is Foris.io powered with IBM Watson.

Working with IBM Watson™ and IBMCloud™, foris.io™ uses data from precision agriculture tools and grower records, cognitive computing, and analytics to enable holistic field management.

Using probes installed on the soil, smart devices are capable of measuring and transmitting data on moisture, PH level, salinity, temperature and other factors that are fed into IBM’s data storage, processing, and analytics cloud for analysis.

Using AI and machine learning, the data gained from the soil sensors are combined with a variety of other environmental factors, such as weather, geographic location, crop yield statistics, and other data to provide farmers with real-time feedback to inform about how much to water and fertilize according to Foris.io’s motto, “just enough • just in time”.data science and renewable energy

Application of AI in the Water sector

According to UN-Water, water scarcity already affects every continent and water use has been growing globally at more than twice the rate of population increase in the last century, and an increasing number of regions are reaching the limit at which water services can be sustainably delivered, especially in arid regions.

In the US, nearly two trillion gallons of water are lost in the country before it even reaches an end-use due to leaks and pipeline faults according to ABB. To address this, ABB amongst many other companies are implementing flow and sound sensors into water infrastructure to pinpoint leaks and predict and proactively maintain the water supply using AI and machine learning.

Mobile-phone based off-grid solar is powering many rural homes in Africa.

off-grid solar
Many countries in Africa remain not connected to the main grid, and they never will be. Why do I say this? These countries may leapfrog from using power from the main grid to the use of decentralized renewable energy.

Just the same way Africa leapfrogged from using grid-type connected telephone lines to cellphones — Africa is doing the same thing with grid power to off-grid solar.

There is vast potential, and the market for off-grid solar remains untapped for most regions in Africa. The technology for a more significant part includes packaged solar PV solutions coupled with smart grids, smart meters, financing, services, warranties, etc.

With electricity, children would not have to gather wood to boil water – a simple electric stove could do that. A light could be turned on at night so that they could read before bed. And the aged grandparents or infant sibling could enjoy the breeze from a simple fan on sweltering, 40+ degree Celsius days – it could make a difference between life and death.

Offering decentralized energy solutions to these homes will help to solve the problem while the government alone cannot solve this problem, because it is about 600 million people without electricity, and this translates to $19 billion a year in energy investments. This vast population of Africans without electricity is almost twice the population of the USA.

Creating decentralized renewable energy solutions rather than constructing massive power plants or grid extension may help to solve time constraint issues or huge investment issues.

Off-grid solar or decentralized renewable energy concept has failed in the past because of the mode of delivery or approach. Many donors used this approach to deliver “free technology” but because of lack of maintenance, training, and lack of after-sales service, this mode of technology transfer failed to deliver.

Nowadays, a private sector-driven approach called the “Pay as you go (PAYGO)” – a mobile phone-based payment plan has revolutionized the off-grid solar market.

Widespread uptake of mobile phone payment systems such as MPESA has helped off-grid solar firms to thrive in under-served areas where most people lack collateral. Also, the decreasing cost of solar panels over the last decade helped the private sector to offer affordable off-grid solar.

Sustainability concerns for electric vehicles (EVs)

electric vehicles

With the increasing demand for EVs every year, concerns about their environmental performance is a highly debated topic. As such, the following three (3) issues seem to be the leading ecological concerns for EVs and must be acknowledged and addressed as the EV technology continues to evolve while finding sustainability solutions to these challenges. Also, no technological change is without consequences, and in most cases, there are trade-offs to assess. These three (3) issues are:

1. The use of critical earth metals, i.e., Neodymium, dysprosium, and praseodymium that are scarce.

2. EV batteries if not recycled or re-used, pose a significant danger to the environment.

3. The climate impact of EVs, when powered by carbon-intensive electricity, does not provide the environmental benefit of fighting climate change.

1. Use of critical earth metals

Critical “elements” of the earth like Neodymium, dysprosium, and praseodymium are used in the manufacturing of magnets for electric vehicle motors and lithium-ion batteries.

However, these rare metals aren’t as rare as precious metals like gold, platinum, and palladium and the main driver at the moment for rapid use of these critical elements is the global demand for cellphones, laptop computers, and other electronic devices that use lithium-ion batteries. electric vehicles

With the current recycling rate of these metals being less than one (1) percent and material substitution possibilities limited as well, it calls for certification extraction programs to encourage stronger social and environmental standards.

2. EV batteries need a proper recycling program

EV batteries are predominantly Lithium-ion batteries (e.g., Nickel-manganese-cobalt (NMC), lithium-nickel manganese cobalt oxide (NMC)) which use lithium, cobalt, nickel, and graphite.

With the increasing demand for EVs and most batteries lasting at least eight (8) years, it is critical to in the long-term to re-use, recycle and have a progressive program for substitution that will help to reduce the long-term environmental impact of EVs.

Sustainable recycle and re-use programs will help to tackle the danger to the environment with increased adoption of EVs in the future.

3. Life-cycle climate impact of EVs

From a life-cycle perspective, EVs if powered from electrical grids that are carbon-intensive (i.e., that source a considerable portion of their power generation from fossil fuels or coal), this does not significantly help to reduce well-to-wheel greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with EVs.

Well-to-wheel results account for all the energy and emissions necessary to produce the fuel used in the car (Well to Pump) and the operation energy and emissions associated with the vehicle technology (tail-pipe emissions, other emissions, and energy efficiency of the vehicle).

According to the EnergySage, taking well-to-wheel emissions into account, all-electric cars emit an average of around 4,450 pounds of CO2 equivalent each year. In comparison, conventional gasoline cars will emit over twice as much annually.

However, the amount of well-to-wheel emissions your EV is responsible for is mostly dependent on your geographic area and the energy sources most commonly used for electricity. As more renewable energy enters the grid, the climate impact of EV will further diminish. Countries with the highest grid carbon intensity will deliver less climate benefit compared to countries with a low grid carbon intensity that will have substantial climate benefits.

Solar PV a great solution to tackle the climate impacts of EVs

electric vehicle

Powering your EV with solar panels will help to off-set carbon emissions, especially when the grid power is carbon-intensive. Solar PV comes in handy for powering your vehicle in places where the grid is primarily powered with fossil fuels hence reducing the environmental impact of your EV. Learn more here about the Environment and EVs.

What is Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and is solar energy a good candidate for a CSR project?

Implementing and integrating the concept of sustainability into a company’s business model is increasingly been embraced by companies that want to improve their image and reputation while creating brands that are not only driven by making profits, but also taking a triple bottom line approach.

A triple-bottom line approach ensures social and environmental considerations are integrated into a company’s business model and as a result such an organization will consider voluntary actions, including environmental and social sustainability that have positive impacts to the environment and society. Most of the CSR component is self-regulation and goes beyond  regulations governing company operations. CSR is about doing the right things and most of the activities done as a CSR component are done for the following reasons:

  • To improve the brand of a company as doing social good which will help to raise awareness of a company’s agenda in sustainability
  • Consumers are increasingly becoming aware about the need to conserve the environment and move towards sustainability. Companies earn trust from consumers when their products integrates sustainable design and their processes are created with the environment in mind.
  • Consumers especially the Millennials who make up the fastest growing force in the marketplace are increasingly aware about CSR and want companies to be good citizens. According to a study conducted by Horizon Media’s Finger on the Pulse, “81 percent of Millennials expect companies to make a public commitment to good corporate citizenship.”
  • Also a study conducted from the 2015 Cone Communications Millennial CSR Study found out that “More than nine-in-10 Millennials would switch brands to one associated with a cause (91% vs. 85% U.S. average), and two-thirds use social media to engage around CSR (66% vs. 53% U.S. average).”

Against this background, CSR is definately becoming an important component of a company’s business model and it has become one of the ingredients for companies that want to implement sustainability in their business operations.

So, is solar energy a good CSR candidate?

Yes solar projects can be good candidates for CSR projects depending on the approach taken in developing and implementing such projects. Companies can explore different projects in the area of solar energy with the target  beneficiaries in mind. The beneficiaries of the solar projects can be the companies themselves or underserved communities that need solar to power their homes, social institutions or even their businesses. 

Some good examples of these projects include, but not limited to:

  • Investing CSR funds in developing solar powered pumps for underserved communities such as in rural areas or in parts of developing countries.
  • Investing CSR funds in promoting rural electrification using solar PV technologies. This could come in the form of off-grid power solutions or mini-grid power systems in underserved communities.
  • Investing CSR funds to power social institutions such as schools and churches with renewable forms of powers such as solar power.

The above can qualify as CSR projects and as good examples of CSR projects. However, some companies have gone ahead and implemented some good CSR solar projects. One of these companies that has used solar PV for their CSR projects is Microsoft.

Microsoft has a very comprehensive CSR strategy which targets underseved markets, rural areas and economically disadvantaged communities by connecting them to have access to the internet while employing solar PV. Since these communities are not connected to the grid, distributed renewable energy systems including solar and wind are used to provide power which they use for internet, domestic use and other productive uses.

With these technological advances and providing affordable access to these resources, it is estimated that about 3.9 billion more people will be empowered to engage in the digital economy and since these places are not connected to the grid; solar PV will be largely used for rural electrification using off-grid and distributed renewable energy systems.

In addition to implementing the above CSR projects, the Microsoft Company has implemented a comprehensive sustainability program to run its data centers with renewable energy systems such as solar PV, bio gas, wind and buying renewable energy credits to ensure its data centers are carbon neutral. By going renewables, Microsoft is helping to extend its CSR agenda by adopting clean power that is good for the environment, help to create markets for renewables and hence enhancing the economic and social dimensions of sustainability.

In conclusion, it is clear that CSR and sustainability are now good for your business and it is actually feasible to develop solar projects for such types of projects. 

If you are interested in learning more about CSR and how to go solar, please contact us at support@reneenergy.com to learn more and explore ways for engagement for future CSR projects. Switchingtosolarpv.com also helps individuals and businesses to find tools and resources to enable them decide about solar energy. To determine your solar potential for going solar, please check this solar calculator for more details. This solar calculator will enable you to answer the following questions:

Also promote this blog when you switch to 100% recycled paper products for your office at amazing prices available at The Green Office!

Switchingtsolarpv.com gets a small commission which goes towards the expenses of running such a blog and finding time to write such blogs for targeting individuals and businesses interested in adopting solar and sustainability. 

Thank you.