"Where do you start in the mission to bring energy to one billion people?" is the question asked by the The Guardian in an article that was recently published on the Enel Partner Zone on access to energy, a vital objective for entire populations that, thanks to the stable availability of energy, could have a future of development that is now unthinkable.
More than one billion people in the world still lack stable access to electricity. This huge amount speaks for itself and suggests that the target of filling the so-called energy divide is somewhat like trying to empty the sea with a bucket. Through its Sustainable Energy for All (SE4All) programme, the United Nations have called upon institutions, governments, civil society organisations and companies to establish a virtuous alliance to formalise wide-ranging projects and strategic choices with the aim of bringing health, education and development through the driver of the change brought about by energy.
The Guardian answers the question "where do you start" by reporting examples of Enel's achievements and projects that the Group is carrying out in the world through its Enabling Electricity programme, based on three types of projects:
- projects aimed at facilitating access to energy through new distributed generation technology and development of network infrastructure, like the integration of PV Solar panels with less rudimentary systems for cooking, and the provision of small generation plants from renewable energy that are portable and can be combined with batteries that store energy;
- projects aimed at removing economic barriers that hinder access to energy in regions like Latin America. In Brazil, for example, an ongoing programme grants discounts on electricity bills to customers who take their waste to recycling centres;
- projects with the local communities to invest in capacity building, making the Group's experience available to disadvantaged populations, for example by training young people in technical schools.
As of today more than two million people worldwide already benefit from the Group's cutting-edge projects aimed to promote access to energy. The Guardian describes some of the ones that are being carried out in Latin America, such as Rete Velha and Ecoelce implemented by Ampla and Coelce, which are Group companies that operate in Brazil. The latter is based on the winning combination 'waste in exchange for reduced bills'. Under this programme, which was launched in 2007, the waste recovered from customers in the most disadvantaged areas of Ceará is dropped at easily accessible collection points and mobile stations in the various neighbourhoods of the State towns where Coelce carries out the initiative. The different types of waste are weighed and valued at market price, in order to determine a reduction of the customer's bill. The waste assessment is immediately registered on the customer card so that the equivalent reduction can be transmitted to the energy supply billing system. So far 105 collection points have been set up allowing Coelce to involve 433,000 customers and to collect more than 19 tonnes of waste enabling a total of 2,760,851 reais to be discounted from electricity bills.