There are two engineers behind ReNewGies: Adrien Taillebois and Jean-Baptiste Sivery. They met while working at Dalkia, now an EDF subsidiary dedicated to energy transformation and formerly part of the Veolia Group. At the time, they discovered the Foundation’s Veoliaforce volunteering scheme in Ethiopia whilst on a mission to set up a solar-powered pump to supply electricity for the drinking water production and distribution systems in refugee camps.
The experience left its mark: what if the principle of sharing expertise with those working in the field could be maintained in the long term? The ReNewGies initiative was launched in 2017 with this in mind. Initial studies began on behalf of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). The aim was to study the use of solar pumping solutions in refugee camps and, in the long term, act as a technical consultancy that the UNHCR would be able to call on.
Initial experiences with UNHCR and NGOs
The partnership took shape in Chad and Mauritania and, at the same time, the first trainees were recruited by the two founders, who also continued their professional activities. The time then came to technically model the tested solutions: at the beginning of 2020, ReNewGies worked on an internal UNHCR tool for the use of solar energy in all these refugee camps.
In parallel, in order to expand the association started looking for new partners. It began working with the NGO Solidarités International to study the feasibility of solar pumping for wells in Burkina Faso. And it identified the Veolia Foundation's program to create water access infrastructure in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
By financially supporting ReNewGies, the Foundation has a twofold objective. Firstly, to enable the organization to assist its partners in the humanitarian sector towards more sustainable actions by limiting their environmental impact, but without affecting the technical quality of the interventions. And also test ReNewGies' solutions in concrete terms.
The city of Uvira, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, will be a first testing ground. An engineer from ReNewGies will study the feasibility of solar pumping to power the drinking water supply solutions developed by the Foundation's experts.
ReNewGies will also work on the Aquaforce 2000 mobile water purification unit, with the aim of examining the potential for hybridizing the energy needs of the equipment designed by the Foundation.
Finally, the ReNewGies team will train the Foundation's team on solar pumping. The long-term goal is to enable the Foundation's experts to call on ReNewGies to address any technical and one-off issues specific to the constraints of the humanitarian sector.