Free Energy Foundation
The Free Energy Foundation is a not for profit organisation that
aims to support entrepreneurs in developing countries to develop
markets for solar energy systems.
It aims to share her knowledge, views and insights to enhance
learning in the wider framework of solar electrification initiatives
worldwide, to unleash the entrepreneurship and creativity of shopkeepers,
sales agents and technicians.
The Free Energy Foundation:
- was founded in 2003 because of the observed lack of understanding
and support for small solar entrepreneurs in developing countries.
- is dedicated to improve the access of rural households in developing
countries to solar energy for their electricity needs.
- supports the development of commercial market channels. It aims
to help all actors in the local market with the capacities, tools
and resources that they need to combine offering good service
to the end-user with developing a viable solar business.
The energy challenge
Developing countries contain 80% of the world's population, but
consume only 30% of the global commercial energy. World-wide,
over 2 billion people still have no access to modern energy services.
Most of the increase in global energy consumption over the next
generation is expected to take place in the developing world.
Already, there is a tremendous demand in developing countries
for the benefits of electrification - in the short term notably
lights, radio, television, mobile phones and refrigeration. As
energy consumption rises with increase in population and improving
living standards, new ways to expand access to energy are being
Solar or photovoltaic (PV) energy is widely perceived as a promising
technology for electricity generation in remote locations in developing
It is estimated that worldwide, over 13 million Solar Home Systems
(SHS) had been installed in remote, rural locations by early 2000.
An estimated one third of the systems were backed by foreign donor
support in government programmes. Commercial market channels have
supplied two thirds of the systems.
Focus on entrepreneurs
Private sector market channels have proven to be the most efficient
and effective ways for reaching dispersed, remote, rural clients.
By building and strengthening networks of actors involved in these
marketing chains, the Free Energy Foundation and the entrepreneurs
we work with make a contribution to the improvement of well-being
and development of communities and individuals around the developing
Different delivery models can be suitable for reaching rural
end users with high quality services and products. While in some
countries cash and carry sales have driven the commercial market
for solar panels to flourish, in other cases the market is more
centred around electricity services, eg. through micro utility
models. In again other countries, initial investors in solar were
attracted by government/multilateral subsidies and finance schemes
and commercial markets have hardly evolved.
In all these models however, small relatively independent rural
entrepreneurs play a central and crucial role. Rural salesmen
and installers are the spill in delivering products and services
to end users, being involved in their own way, using their full
knowledge of the local markets and circumstances.
The initiative to start the Free Energy Foundation was taken
early 2003 by the marketing team of Free Energy Europe, a Dutch/French
manufacturer of amorphous silicon solar panels. Working with small
and micro enterprises in developing countries, they soon realised
that the key to succesful solar market development is to provide
the right support to these rural entrepreneurs.
The Foundation starts by building on Free Energy Europe's considerable
experience and extensive network of entrepreneurs in developing
countries, but intends to work with all organisations and individuals
who have the will and capacity to make a meaningful contribution
to the promotion of solar electricity in rural areas in developing
Free Energy Foundation knows that with tailor made assistance
in marketing and technical issues, up-country entrepreneurs can
live up to demonstrating their full potential of servicing a broad
range of rural clients.
Involving local entrepreneurs in their own way will unleash the
full power of entrepreneurship, reaching end users with affordable
and quality energy services in markets with targeted penetration
rates of over 80