Massachusetts, USA — All of us here at RenewableEnergyWorld.com would like to wish everyone a very merry Christmas and a happy holiday season.
While you all sit down and partake in your favorite holiday traditions, we ask that you take a few minutes to remember those who are less fortunate and the organizations that strive to make the world a better place for both people and the environment.
The following are several organizations that are using renewable energy to improve communities, the environment, and even save lives. A special thanks goes out to our Twitter followers who suggested some of their favorite charities for this list. Please feel free to highlight your own favorite organization in the comments below.
In the United States alone, there is an estimated 20 million low-income, owner-occupied single-family homes, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. This equates to 47.5 million people, including 23.5 million children, and these numbers are rising each year. One major hardship for these families is energy.
Low-income families spend over twice the proportion of their total income on energy bills than the average person, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Researchers from the Boston Medical Center have found that children in energy-insecure households don’t get enough food, have poorer health, and are more prone to developmental problems. One way to lower energy bills and keep food on the table is to power homes with solar energy.
Though solar energy would save these families thousands of dollars, they continue to face financial barriers. Few have enough tax liability to take full advantage of federal and state tax incentives for a rooftop solar system, and even with incentives, the upfront cost of solar still puts a system out of reach. Several solar installers also offer leasing plans for rooftop solar, similar to leasing a vehicle, but most companies require a credit score of at least 680, which prevents many families from taking advantage of the plan.
Fortunately, there are groups around the country working to overcome these financial barriers and bring solar to low-income households in need, and even provide new job opportunities in the burgeoning renewable energy industry.
Grid Alternatives, widely known as Grid, is a non-profit organization based in Oakland, California that recognizes the need to lessen the energy burden for low-income families. Grid brings together community partners, volunteers and job trainees to bring solar power to these families. Not only do they install solar on rooftops, they also educate the families about the technology and train them to install it, thus providing valuable hands-on experience, cost savings and a source of clean, local energy.
Grid Alternatives vision is simple: free, clean electricity from the sun should be available to everyone. Grid developed a model to make solar PV technology practical and accessible for low-income communities that need the savings, education and jobs the most, yet have the least access. By taking a broader approach to solar as not just an environmental good but also a real-world solution to real-world economic problems, Grid is helping to set the stage for solar adoption nationwide.
Click here to make a donation to Grid Alternatives.
In India, approximately 306 million people go without electricity, or about 25 percent of the population. Many of these people are forced to purchase costly, and dirty, kerosene for both light and cooking. This way of life prevents economies from blossoming, since communities are unable to work after dark, and most income is wasted on these costly fossil fuels.
Pollinate Energy strives to solve this energy issue and both improve the lives and environment of this population. These communities often consist of the below demographics:
In order to improve these communities, Pollinate Energy offers renewable energy solutions via an e entrepreneurial model that improves local economies.
Essentially, Pollinate works to gather reliable supplies, such as solar lamps and efficient cookstoves, and hands them off to “Pollinators” to sell to local communities. These Pollinators are local e entrepreneurial citizens that want to start their own business. They establish and maintain relationships with fellow local citizens and work to sell Pollinate’s systems. Pollinators also have the help of “Worker Bees” that help to sell and maintain the products. Consumers are able to pay for their clean energy device via an af affordable five-week payment program.
Canada-based TREC Education knows that the renewable energy transition relies on proper education. Its mission is simple: Create interest and spark innovation in students through fun renewable energy educational programs. These programs not only focus on renewables, but also on conservation and energy efficiency with an aim to create healthy energy use habits.
TREC Education offers programs for both primary and secondary education levels, which include in-school workshops, presentations and field trips. Courses are based on the Ontario Science and Technology curriculum and STEM topics.
Elementary sessions include classes called “Capture the Wind,” where students learn about wind power and even build model turbines, and “Digest This!” explore “how zoo poo can be converted into heat and electrical energy.” Elementary students also have the opportunity to take field trips to local wind and solar farms.
Secondary programs include a solar workshop where students learn about climate change and solar energy — students then construct a small solar installation that can power a small appliance. The Green Collar Career program is also available to introduce students to burgeoning green energy workforce opportunities in Canada. TREC also offers its Renewable Energy Career Connections course that offers hand-on solar training and n networking in the renewable energy field.
TREC also hosts a Kid’s World of Energy festival each year, where student are able to participate in hands-on workshops and activities with focuses on renewable energy, climate change and conservation.
Click here to donate to TREC Education.
A special thanks to our Twitter followers for highlighting TREC:
Thanks again to our Twitter followers. Their additional suggestions include:
@REWorld EA4A: Energy Access for All A new org that I started as part of my commitment to invest profits from my business ENERLOGY— Sunny Morgan (@sunnyboymorgan) December 16, 2014
Lead image: Santa hand via Shutterstock