What is Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and is solar energy a good candidate for a CSR project?

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Implementing and integrating the concept of sustainability into a company’s business model is increasingly been embraced by companies that want to improve their image and reputation while creating brands that are not only driven by making profits, but also taking a triple bottom line approach.

A triple-bottom line approach ensures social and environmental considerations are integrated into a company’s business model and as a result such an organization will consider voluntary actions, including environmental and social sustainability that have positive impacts to the environment and society. Most of the CSR component is self-regulation and goes beyond  regulations governing company operations. CSR is about doing the right things and most of the activities done as a CSR component are done for the following reasons:

  • To improve the brand of a company as doing social good which will help to raise awareness of a company’s agenda in sustainability
  • Consumers are increasingly becoming aware about the need to conserve the environment and move towards sustainability. Companies earn trust from consumers when their products integrates sustainable design and their processes are created with the environment in mind.
  • Consumers especially the Millennials who make up the fastest growing force in the marketplace are increasingly aware about CSR and want companies to be good citizens. According to a study conducted by Horizon Media’s Finger on the Pulse, “81 percent of Millennials expect companies to make a public commitment to good corporate citizenship.”
  • Also a study conducted from the 2015 Cone Communications Millennial CSR Study found out that “More than nine-in-10 Millennials would switch brands to one associated with a cause (91% vs. 85% U.S. average), and two-thirds use social media to engage around CSR (66% vs. 53% U.S. average).”

Against this background, CSR is definately becoming an important component of a company’s business model and it has become one of the ingredients for companies that want to implement sustainability in their business operations.

So, is solar energy a good CSR candidate?

Yes solar projects can be good candidates for CSR projects depending on the approach taken in developing and implementing such projects. Companies can explore different projects in the area of solar energy with the target  beneficiaries in mind. The beneficiaries of the solar projects can be the companies themselves or underserved communities that need solar to power their homes, social institutions or even their businesses. 

Some good examples of these projects include, but not limited to:

  • Investing CSR funds in developing solar powered pumps for underserved communities such as in rural areas or in parts of developing countries.
  • Investing CSR funds in promoting rural electrification using solar PV technologies. This could come in the form of off-grid power solutions or mini-grid power systems in underserved communities.
  • Investing CSR funds to power social institutions such as schools and churches with renewable forms of powers such as solar power.

The above can qualify as CSR projects and as good examples of CSR projects. However, some companies have gone ahead and implemented some good CSR solar projects. One of these companies that has used solar PV for their CSR projects is Microsoft.

Microsoft has a very comprehensive CSR strategy which targets underseved markets, rural areas and economically disadvantaged communities by connecting them to have access to the internet while employing solar PV. Since these communities are not connected to the grid, distributed renewable energy systems including solar and wind are used to provide power which they use for internet, domestic use and other productive uses.

With these technological advances and providing affordable access to these resources, it is estimated that about 3.9 billion more people will be empowered to engage in the digital economy and since these places are not connected to the grid; solar PV will be largely used for rural electrification using off-grid and distributed renewable energy systems.

In addition to implementing the above CSR projects, the Microsoft Company has implemented a comprehensive sustainability program to run its data centers with renewable energy systems such as solar PV, bio gas, wind and buying renewable energy credits to ensure its data centers are carbon neutral. By going renewables, Microsoft is helping to extend its CSR agenda by adopting clean power that is good for the environment, help to create markets for renewables and hence enhancing the economic and social dimensions of sustainability.

In conclusion, it is clear that CSR and sustainability are now good for your business and it is actually feasible to develop solar projects for such types of projects. 

If you are interested in learning more about CSR and how to go solar, please contact us at support@switchingtosolarpv.com to learn more and explore ways for engagement for future CSR projects. Switchingtosolarpv.com also helps individuals and businesses to find tools and resources to enable them decide about solar energy. To determine your solar potential for going solar, please check this solar calculator for more details. This solar calculator will enable you to answer the following questions:

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