ENGIE x Solar Impulse Foundation

By ENGIE - 30 January 2020 - 17:13

In 2017, a natural partnership arose between ENGIE – which aims to become the leader in the zero-carbon transition – and the Solar Impulse Foundation, co-founded by Bertrand Piccard, who piloted the first solar-powered, zero-emissions transatlantic flight, to identify a thousand clean, efficient and profitable solutions.


The Solar Impulse Foundation

When in 2016 Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg managed to fly 40,000 km around the world in a solar-powered plane without using a single drop of fuel, it was a historic first and an unprecedented showcase for clean technologies and renewable energies. The echo of this technological success story among many governments, institutions, companies and celebrities around the globe prompted Bertrand Piccard to create the Solar Impulse Foundation.

The Foundation's objective is to bridge the gap between ecology and economy by reducing our impact on the environment while promoting economic development.

To achieve this, the Foundation has set itself the challenge of identifying 1000 clean, efficient and cost-effective solutions to encourage institutional authorities and other decision-makers to set more ambitious environmental objectives and energy policies.

Bertrand Piccard said : 

"Governments, companies and institutions must – as a matter of urgency – abandon their minimal targets and commit to far more ambitious environmental and energy policies, focusing their negotiations and action plans on what clean and profitable technologies can actually offer today. Not just for future generations, but for today's industry and for the planet and its inhabitants"


A shared vision for a positive-impact partnership

Since 1 January 2017, ENGIE has been sharing its expertise in helping to identify the one thousand clean, efficient and profitable solutions that the Solar Impulse Foundation is seeking.

This partnership came about quite naturally, since ENGIE and the Solar Impulse Foundation have a shared vision: they want to reconcile positive impact and economic performance.

Indeed, on the one hand, ENGIE has placed the triple P approach – Planet, People and Profit – at the heart of its strategy, factoring climate and social impact into its company's performance criteria, in addition to more conventional economic criteria. On the other hand, the Solar Impulse Foundation wants to bridge the gap between ecology and economy, reducing the impact on the environment while promoting economic development.

The shared aim is therefore to pool such clean solutions and to speed up their development, reconciling initiatives to protect the environment with economic profitability.

ENGIE and the Foundation also have shared values in relation to innovation, action, sustainable development and harmonious progress.

All of these points in common mean that this partnership is a major opportunity to speed up our collective action to bring about a form of progress that is more harmonious, serving the zero-carbon transition.

The partnership is due to last for four years, until 31 December 2021.

So far, four ENGIE solutions have been certified by the Foundation: PowerCorner, Vertuoz Pilot, District cooling systems and Community Solar.

ENGIE solutions certified by the SIF

PowerCorner offers reliable, sustainable and affordable energy services through off-grid mini-grids serving rural customers in developing countries. PowerCorner is an internal start-up within the ENGIE Group with a long-term service commitment towards its customers.  The primary focus of PowerCorner is to support income-generating activities, thereby sustainably improving the living conditions of its customers.

Solar Community is a solar power plant whose electricity is shared by several users, thus enabling more people to access affordable solar power. Customers can hire a solar power "share", so they can switch over to solar power without needing a special roof… or any kind of roof at all. This makes it an option for people who rent the property in which they live or work.

District cooling systems: Since 1991, ENGIE has been developing and operating one of the largest district cooling systems in the world – CLIMESPACE in Paris. Spread over ten production sites, all of which are powered exclusively using renewable electricity, the system generates cooled water which it supplies to more than 600 clients (hotels, offices, retailers, etc.) – via a 73-km long underground network. District Cooling Systems generate an equivalent cooling effect and can reduce water and electricity consumption by up to 65% compared with stand-alone plants.

Vertuoz Pilot optimises energy consumption, creating a balance between occupants' comfort and energy savings. It is made up of connected objects installed on site which send measurements read remotely over the Internet to an artificial intelligence algorithm. This algorithm then simultaneously factors in site conditions, consumption targets and various other constraints which can be configured. It then sends a list of actions and orders to actuators installed on site which control heating, lighting and other data on which they are required to perform operations.