29 May 2013 — Alexie Sellar has worked as a mechanical engineer in project management and was recently the acting energy hub coordinator for Engineers Without Borders NSW.
Now she’s helping people living in India’s slums by giving them access to affordable solar lighting.
In her role as Pollinate Energy’s national operations manager, Ms Sellar told last week’s Property Council of Australia’s Sustainable Development Conference that the not-for-profit social business was founded last year by five Australians.
She said the organisation worked in small communities of about 300 people who were the economic migrants of the region.
They had moved to cities to find employment but found themselves living in tent cities without the support to ever move forward.
They also lived without electricity relying on dangerous and expensive kerosene for their lighting and cooking needs, she said.
“We are delivering clean solar energy to those communities focusing heavily on distribution and maintenance,” she said.
“We also offer a five-week microfinance transition program.
“We treat our customers with respect and dignity and give our local entrepreneurs, who are known as pollinators, an ongoing business.”
Ms Sellar said the solar program meant those living in the communities no longer relied on buying kerosene for light. It also meant that they could continue their work into the night, creating better sales opportunities, could study for a better employment outcome or just hold social gatherings.
As of March 2013, Pollinate Energy had saved the communities a total of 147,639 rupees, reduced the use of kerosene by 2231 litres, saved 5354 kilograms of carbon dioxide from being produced and provided clean energy to 1661 people.
Ms Sellar said Pollinate Energy also offered a fellowship program for university students and a young professionals program to experience the work firsthand in India on a four-week intensive program, along with an internship program for Indian university students.
She invited conference participants to put forward candidates for the young professionals program.
Ms Sellar said the next step was fuel efficient stoves.
Pollinate Energy is supported by Epuron – an Australian renewable energy company, Norton Rose – an international legal practice, Cundall – an Australian environmentally sustainable design consultant in the built environment and Net Balance – an Australian sustainability advisory and assurance firm.
For more information about Pollinate Energy go to https://pollinateenergy.org