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Sustainability, Renewable Energy and Ethics – UNWFP

At Logic Energy we are very lucky to get involved in many exciting projects with multiple organisations across the world, but from time to time an incredible project that goes well beyond pure engineering and saving energy captures our imagination. This was the case for the project by the United Nations World Food Programme [WFP] where they were not just saving costs and energy but actually saving lives! Here is their story. This is all about WFP and the amazing work they do 24/7:

Project background

Renewable energy is much more than just saving money and making a good profit on feed-in tariffs and government subsidies. It can also help lift remote areas out of poverty and improve quality of life for residents.

Improving energy availability is a crucial part in helping communities break through the poverty trap and become self-sufficient. We were fortunate enough to work beside WFP when it successfully utilised renewable energy in remote areas of Somalia where electricity can be unreliable or non-existent Not only will this result in significant financial savings, but it will greatly reduce environmental impact.

WFP built a warehouse and office compound in Bosasso, Somalia to store food and manage distributions in the Puntland region; a critical service for the local population during food shortages or famine. The compound was initially designed to run on two 65kVA generators, 24 hours a day. However, this would have been very eco-unfriendly, harming the very people that WFP was trying to help. In addition, it would have entailed the transportation of fuel through insecure environments potentially putting staff at risk. To avoid this, they decided to pilot clean renewable energy to run both the warehouse and office compound.

They wanted to measure the benefits of using renewable energy to run the facility compared to the use of grid supply and diesel generators. But how would WFP know if it really was going to be viable to pay the higher, up-front cost of a renewable energy installation despite the environmental benefits?

WFP had done all the background research and Return on Investment (ROI) analysis and it all looked very promising. But how could they demonstrate the plan to the rest of the organization? More importantly, how were they going to be able to make sure that their forecasting and predictions were still on track as the project continued? When WFP shared their objectives with us and communicated their need to send out a clear message to the rest of the organisation, we were really eager to get involved. Tracking and sharing honest key performance indicators [KPI] is what we strive for. Providing the tools to keep an impartial overview of renewable energy – is in our DNA!

It is not that often that I get personally involved in the design of our Dashboards and Displays, but the work WFP was doing was so challenging and it was so important to give a clear picture that I couldn’t help but get hands-on. With a two-way communication process and a lot of design and programming hours, WFP and Logic Energy jointly delivered an automatic KPI tracker based on real information from their Somalia warehouse. Every few seconds the information is re-calculated and WFP knows at a glance whether their ROI is ahead or behind plans. Fortunately, at the time of writing it is still ahead!

Going beyond technology: the World Food Programme

So now you know what WFP did, why they did it and how Logic Energy helped to put the message out there but.. what does it mean? Does it change anything? Does it affect me?

Well, I strongly believe so! Let me run a few numbers by you with what WFP has demonstrated here:

To supply a typical diesel generator and a connection to the electrical grid will cost around $150,000 for a warehouse like the one in Somalia. Unfortunately, the installation cost of renewable energy is not so economical (yet!) and to install the equivalent of the above would need in excess of $600,000 – quite an investment!! Now that we have the initial numbers, let’s jump ahead a few years… say 20 to 25 years.

Where are we now?

Assuming the price of fuel remains at today’s price for the next 25 years, using renewable energy will generate over $1,200,000 of savings due to the low running costs compared with fossil fuels.

These savings could feed nearly 14,000 children every single day over a full school year, and if you are more interested in CO2 savings; the equivalent of nearly 8,300 4×4 cars off the road for a day.

I really believe what WFP has done with this project is just the beginning of something much bigger – bigger than money and ROI: by saving children’s lives they are saving the planet too, they are investing in the world’s future. Your world, my world.

Now this is just one site in Somalia.. For a second, imagine the benefits of well-planned and well-studied projects like this many times across the world… A few hundred projects? A few thousand?…. that is already a few billion dollars saved and a few million children fed. Begin small, think bigger… think smart.

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