Following the devastating bushfires that tore through Australia in the ‘Black Summer’ of 2019-2020, REC Group, an international solar energy company headquartered in Norway, teamed up with local partners in a powerful relief program: REConstruct gives communities hit by the catastrophe access to clean solar power, allowing them to help to protect the environment and save money on their electricity bills.
REConstruct: getting power generation facilities to impacted communities
Australia’s Black Summer Bushfires in 2019-2020 took a terrible toll in terms of lives and livelihoods. 33 people were killed. The fires burned more than 3,000 houses and 17 million hectares of land, and also caused the death of over one billion animals. Many communities lost all power and communications.
In response to the catastrophe, REC and partners launched the REConstruct initiative to get power generation facilities into impacted communities. Each installation was a complete package, including premium REC Alpha solar panels, inverters and racking, all fully installed by a local solar professional. There was no cost to the communities, and right from the start the initiative aimed to be ‘low-touch’, avoiding unnecessary bureaucracy. In total, REC and partners installed 15 solar power systems, each with 6.5 kW power output. Across the states of Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia, the program has made a real difference to schools, sports clubs and community hubs.
Beyond the impacted communities, the initiative also resonated with the entire country, and was widely covered on TV (such as on Prime7, watch at https://fb.watch/9dWyLkHM5b/) as well as on radio, print media and social media.
Action on climate change
Without action on climate change, extreme weather events such as the Black Summer bushfires are likely to become more common. The recent COP26 Conference in Glasgow made clear how urgent the situation is. Atmospheric CO2 continues to rise fast. Even with the best-case scenario – with full implementation of all announced targets including net zero pledges – current data indicates that it will be extremely challenging to limit global temperature rise to 1.5°C.
REC’s responsibility as a corporate citizen
As Australia heads into a new summer season, we all hope the weather will be less severe and that the country can avoid a repeat of the 2019-2020 catastrophe. Paul Scerri, REC Director of Sales for Australia and New Zealand, speaks for the entire REC community, both in Australia and worldwide, when he says, “It is incredibly important for us all to step up our efforts to protect nature and our own habitat. REC is aware of the urgency. We take our own responsibility very seriously, and are doing whatever we can to address the climate challenge.”
Every gram of CO2 matters, and REC is committed to making a difference – for example through continued improvements to solar panel efficiency, innovative silicon kerf recycling processes, and effective programs to save energy, water and waste. REC also regularly supports communities in need. Apart from the REConstruct program in Australia, REC has also supported projects to electrify remote Himalayan communities, or to help recovery efforts following the hurricanes in Puerto Rico. In line with the ISO 26000 standard, REC understands Corporate Social Responsibility as a citizenship obligation even beyond its own business.