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Renewable Energy World Celebrates Global Non-Profits that Advance Sustainability

Whether you welcome it with enthusiasm or pretend it's not happening, the holiday season is upon us. This year, all of us here at RenewableEnergyWorld would like to highlight organizations that uphold the spirit of giving, charity and work for the greater good. Below you will find some of the many organizations with goals to promote and establish renewable energy worldwide.

A special thanks goes out to our Twitter followers for their great suggestions, and on this week's #SolarChat (Wednesday, December 12th from 2:00-3:00 p.m. EST) we encourage you to lend your Twitter voice to this discussion. Wednesday's topic, "Solar Gives Back," will highlight charitable solar practices around the world with special panelists from SELF, SolSolution and EverybodySolar — find more details and register here

Of course, this is not a complete list, so if you have a favorite organization feel free to leave a note in the comments below and attend #SolarChat on Wednesday to discuss this important topic.


The Washington, D.C.-based Solar Electric Light Fund (SELF) has completed solar energy projects in more than 20 countries since its inception in 1990. Its mission is to provide solar solutions to those living in energy poverty.  SELF uses its Whole Village Development Model to establish community development and sustainability through:

  • Education: powering lights, computers and wireless internet services.
  • Health: powering facility lights, labs, diagnostic equipment and vaccine refrigerators.
  • Water & Agriculture: powering water wells and pumps for clean drinking water and year-round crop irrigation.
  • Enterprise: powering centers for small businesses and providing electricity for machinery and equipment.
  • Community: electrifying homes, community centers and street lighting.

With recent projects in Haiti that provide power for eight medical facilities, hundreds of street lights, power to 20 schools, a fish farm, and more (often working alongside the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund), SELF focuses on areas in dire need of assistance.

Practical Action

Practical Action puts an emphasis on technology to enable rural communities to improve their way of life. In its own words, Practical Action “finds out what people are doing and helps them to do it better.”  Practical Action’s major focus is in the improvement of energy solutions worldwide.

From run-of-river micro-hydro projects that power villages in Zimbabwe to small-scale wind projects for irrigation and power in Peru, Practical Action strives to stimulate economies and improve living conditions globally.

PA is also a major partner of the Sustainable Energy for All initiative, which strives to provide energy to sub-Saharan communities. This fall at Solar Power International, spoke with some of the Sustainable Energy for All organizations about the initiative.  The video is here.

An international non-governmental organization (NGO), Practical Action relies on donations and grants, and according to its website last year 88 pence in every £1 donated was allocated directly to its operations, which help more than 1 million people.

Practical Action is also taking part in #GivingTuesday, which envourages people to give hope by purchasing a "Practical Present" this season.


Originally launched as a UK project in 2009, 10:10 has expanded to more than 25 countries around the world. Its premise is simple: reduce carbon emissions by 10 percent in one year. 10:10 supporters believe this goal is much more tangible and beneficial than long-term targets, such as those that are 50 or 80 percent by 2050.

10:10 is based on ten terms:

  1. 10:10 is a voluntary emissions reduction campaign for any person, organization or business to commit to cutting 10% of their emissions in a 12 month period.
  2. 10:10 is an inclusive campaign. Every person, business and organization is welcome to join.
  3. Offsetting or emissions trading can in no circumstances be part of 10:10, as the aim is to reduce emissions directly.
  4. Successes are celebrated, rather than failures highlighted, so as not to discourage people/organizations from signing-up for fear they will be criticized for failing to achieve 10%.
  5. Everyone who signs up should be actively encouraged to spread the word.
  6. Emissions savings should wherever possible be locked in for the long term.
  7. All campaigning organizations are free to run with 10:10 if they choose.
  8. 10:10 must not be used as a vehicle for personal or organizational profiteering.
  9. 10:10 is a campaign for immediate reductions of greenhouse gas emissions and should not be used to push any other moral, social or political agenda.
  10. No 10:10 organization, i.e. country hub, should behave in any way that could impact negatively on 10:10’s reputation.

More than 100,000 individuals, 4,000 businesses, 2,000 schools, and 2,500 organizations have signed up for the initiative, and the 10:10 website has several case studies that outline strategies to implement the cause.


WindAid is an international campaign that focuses on communities with limited or no access to the national grid. Since installing a turbine is significantly cheaper than extending transmission lines, WindAid focuses on off-grid communities around the word and not only installs an energy resource, but educates the community about the resource so that it can be self-sustaining, as well.

A volunteer-based organization, WindAid participants work with engineers to build wind turbines from scratch on site, which is usually a three-week process. Each 2.5-kW turbine costs approximately $15,000, funds for which come from volunteer fees (costs typically run $1,950 per person for the five-week mission).

Once construction and testing are complete, the group moves to a pre-selected site for installation. Sites are nominated from either the community itself or someone working closely with the community. WindAid officials assess each community based on whether they have established cooperatives, applied for grants, worked with any organizations to achieve for community benefit, etc.  If the community fits the necessary requirements and its location has a good wind resource, WindAid is there to help.


While many already know kerosene-fueled light is a dirty form of energy, it is also a major expense for those that use it, and can eat up to 20 percent of a household’s income each month, on average. In poverty-stricken countries, this form of energy simply doesn’t make sense.

SolarAid has recognized this issue and has set a goal to eradicate kerosene lamps from Africa by 2020. In rural sub-saharan Africa, only 14.2 percent of the population has access to electricity. SolarAid has found that access to solar light increases income by an average of 20 percent per month, improves education and promotes a healthier lifestyle. 

With the help of donations, SolarAid sells solar lighting to families (Share a Light), schools (LighterLeaning) and organizations throughout Africa and educates communities about the importance of clean energy. Through the SolarAid fund, you can help power one of the 110 million households without electricity in Africa.

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As associate editor of, I coordinate and edit feature stories, contributed articles, news stories, opinion pieces and blogs. I also research and write content for and REW magazine. I manage


Volume 18, Issue 4


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