Leading off-grid utilities provider, Winch Energy, has been presented with the International Environmental Impact Award at the British Expertise International Awards 2020.
Awarded in recognition of the renewable off-grid power project in Sierra Leone, the achievement acknowledges Winch Energy’s efforts to provide clean, affordable energy to over 40,000 people in the country’s Koinadugu, Bombali and Tonkolili districts.
The award-winning development uses Winch Energy’s proprietary Remote Power Unit (RPU) and other operating technology such as the Winch Dashboard and the Winch Controller to power 24 villages and a community health centre in the country’s northern region. The project was co-funded by the UK’s Department for International Development – now replaced by the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office – to sustainably supply renewable energy to populations that previously had no access to or were underserved by the national grid.
Run in partnership with the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) in Sierra Leone, the project has also developed local enterprise. Our relationship with micro credit operator EasySolar offers communities electrical appliances available on micro-credit and a partnership with the telecom operator Orange gives villages access to telecoms and mobile money services. Since Winch started to power the villages some 6 months ago, 83% of customers say their livelihood has improved and over half of customers (56%) say their income has increased*.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Winch Energy has electrified a further 12 community health centres, giving them free power to ensure patients and healthcare professionals can reliably access clean water, lighting and specialist equipment including ventilators. Furthermore, Winch Energy has installed MOPO battery systems to benefit people in the wider community who are yet to be directly connected to the mini-grids and from March 2021 Winch Energy will pilot an electric vehicle programme.
The awards celebrate the best of UK expertise in international development, infrastructure and capacity building and announced winners at a virtual ceremony on 21st October 2020. Winch Energy was shortlisted in the in category of International Environmental Impact category alongside two other finalists and was successfully crowned as winner by an esteemed panel of industry experts. The judges included President of British Expertise International, HRH The Duke of Gloucester, and CEO Tom Cargill.
Nicholas Wrigley, CEO of Winch Energy Group, comments: “This award acknowledges the efforts of all our team and partners and shines a light on the life-changing improvements reliable power can bring to people in remote communities. It also shows how partnerships between the public and private sector can successfully boost developing economies and act as a force for environmental good.
“We are now one of the largest electricity providers in Sierra Leone, in spite of the geographical challenges that come with working in remote areas and the added difficulties the pandemic we are looking to expand our footprint into many other villages. In the next year we expect to connect a further 10,000 people in the country to renewable, smart energy.”
Judge Steve Burgin, Advisory Board Member for Strategy International and Non Executive Director of Offshore Wind Growth Partnership says: “The Environmental Impact Award recognises outstanding achievements that deploy expertise and innovation to make a meaningful, positive changes in the journey of many countries towards attainment of their Sustainable Development Goals. This year we applaud a project that switches rural communities to low carbon and renewable sources of energy whilst still promoting sustainable and inclusive economic development.
“Congratulations to the team at Winch Energy and let’s hope this is just one important step towards ever wider rollout of renewable power to communities across this region and beyond.”