The Integrated Energy Centre (IEC) Concept
Today S3IDF is pleased to present you the first post in our Integrated Energy Centres series: The Integrated Energy Centre Concept.
IECs are solar-powered enterprises that provide a range of basic services and activities to underserved communities. IECs, a concept driven by the SELCO Foundation, are developed in conjunction with S3IDF and other partners.
The Integrated Energy Centre Concept
Integrated Energy Centres (IECs) are solar-powered community centers that supply a range of basic services and activities which are often unavailable in underserved rural, urban, and peri-urban areas. By addressing fundamental energy needs and providing energy-dependent services, IECs positively impact the quality of life of IEC users and create livelihood opportunities for local entrepreneurs and other residents.
IECs can be stand-alone structures or can be co-located with community spaces such as libraries, education facilities, and health centers. These centers become hubs for the underprivileged to access services that are either difficult to obtain or unreliable. To promote sustainability, IECs are tailored to fit the needs of each individual community. Additionally, each IEC will promote the use of alternative energies, educate the users as to possible methods and technologies that can be implemented to reach their needs, and connect the users to providers, keeping the users’ interests at the highest priority.
IECs work best in communities which experience energy scarcities. The services, activities, and structures of IECs are generally designed depending on the needs of a particular community. Each IEC is custom designed to best suit local environments and situations so that every aspect of it can be sustainable.
Revenue generated by IECs cover maintenance and operating costs. IECs are typically run by local partners, operators, groups or entrepreneurs.
IEC Energy Services
IECs are equipped with lighting so they can be used during the evening and at night. Additionally, rentable lanterns and batteries are available for home lighting. Other services provided include mobile charging, solar powered water purification systems, access to small appliances and tools (such as soldering guns) and larger productive-use technologies (such as grain mixers/grinders), community televisions, cooling/heating services, and access to energy-efficient products.
Educational services such as audio visual aids, books and digital libraries, renewable energy learning kits, computers/ projectors/ DVD players, lighting for evening classes, student study lights, and informal basic literacy programs are provided.
IEC’s can offer health-related services as well. Some serve as charging points for basic ECG/EEG/Ultrasound machines, while others store vaccines and medicines.
IEC Information and Awareness
Information and awareness programs provided include ticket booking/printing, internet services aimed at identity cards/bill payments, agriculture and trade related information access, and audio-visual/activity-based awareness programs on health, sanitation, and other social issues.
The training or work centres can lead to income-generating activities. The benefits reaped at these centres are vast. They include lighting, access to information, computers, sewing machines, electrical workshops, fruit driers, and market linkage facilities.
IEC’s can offer a combination of these types of services.
At present, there are currently 18 IECs in operation that are operating in different types of areas and use various business/operational models. The Centres are typically run by project partners or groups of entrepreneurs from the communities where the Centres are located.
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The information disseminated in this post has been adapted from our Integrated Energy Centre (IEC) Brief Progress Report (March 2012 – March 2013).