What led Polina Vasilenko, the Founder of HelioRec establish this company? To this question, she answered:
I am a diver and I travelled the World a lot, I saw beautiful places with tremendous amount of plastic. I cannot just close my eyes on it. Since, the global population is continuously growing, it is necessary to counteract the negative environmental impacts as fast as we can through educating ourselves and withdrawing our harmful actions
In May 2018 Polina founded HelioRec, a clean energy company, which vouches to provide a multifaceted solution for solar-based power generation along with plastic recycling.
Figure 1: The offshore floating solar power plant
HelioRec’s methodology includes recycling the waste plastic to construct floating structures. The solar power plants will be mounted on these floating structures, which will be then deployed in the sea, mainly in the areas with large population density (Figure 1).
The whole process showed below (Figure 2):
Figure 2: The value chain
HelioRec, which was born out of the urge to save the planet, is also working in line with some of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were adopted by the world leaders in 2015 UN Summit and came into force on 1st January 2016. These SDGs (Figure 3) aim to combat all forms of poverty, inequalities, and climate change; simultaneously, ensuring that everyone is on board of development. Sustainability is the need of the hour to protect our perishing mother earth, and SDGs are the pathways which can be used to fight this battle of survival.
Figure 3: Sustainable Development Goals
In this article, I want to illustrate how HelioRec contributes to these global SDGs.
After reading about the 17 SDGs and understanding the methodology, as well as values of HelioRec, particularly 8 SDGs, seem associable. Further, in this article, I will try to explain the reasons for this choice.
Goal 7: Affordable and Clean Energy
One of the objectives of Goal 7 is to increase the total share of renewable energy in the country’s energy mix. HelioRec’s floating solar power plants will promote clean solar energy to the country’s energy mix.
Goal 9: Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure
Goal 9 promotes sustainable industrialization and fosters innovation. According to this goal, innovative and sustainable industrialisation will stimulate the economic growth of a country. HelioRec is an innovative start-up which is striving to give a solution for the disposal of waste plastic.
Goal 11: Sustainable Cities & Communities
Goal 11 highlights the need to build sustainable cities and communities; since cities consume 60–65 % of the total global energy and cause 75 % of the total global emissions. Sustainable waste management is one of the important aim of this goal, and HelioRec is providing a solution for managing the plastic waste by recycling it into platforms for the floating solar power plants and reduce the carbon footprint.
Goal 12: Responsible Production & Consumption
Goal 12 strives to promote the sustainable production and consumption habits. The notorious human intervention has already depleted our natural resources. HelioRec is directly in line with this goal; in fact, I would say it is the most important one.
The company deals with utilizing the recycled high-density polyethylene (HDPE) for the manufacture of platforms for the floating solar power plants. This will utilize the waste HDPE plastic otherwise thrown into the landfills, or finding its way to the ocean. Moreover, it is promoting to replace single use plastic by a more sustainable option. One example is the plastic awareness campaign in Brazilian University. Together with the help of college faculty, students & cafeteria staff, Polina put forth the idea of plastic pollution and “Zero Plastic Week”. One of the main outcomes was that they replaced the single-use plastic cups in the University cafeteria with eco-friendly mugs. A similar campaign will be conducted in Colombia, Algeria, Kuwait in the coming weeks.
Goal 13 stresses upon the urgent need to mitigate the rising earth’s temperature. HelioRec is promoting the climate change in two ways: firstly by providing the solution for sustainably recovering energy from waste and secondly by the clean solar energy.
Goal 14 focuses on preserving the oceans and the water-bodies. Diverting the waste plastic into a productive recycling, HelioRec works towards keeping our oceans clean.
Goal 15 promotes the protection of forests, ways to combat desertification and preservation of the biodiversity. The fact that the solar panels will be installed on the sea surface, so this saved land could be used for other purposes.
Goal 17: Partnerships for the Goals
This goal is basically dealing with the partnership of the developed country with a developing country to provide the capability to the latter in order to develop sustainably. HelioRec is currently focused on providing a technological solution to the Asian countries and plans to work in collaboration with the native people.
HelioRec provides a unique solution to combat climate change, land scarcity, and plastic pollution. Also, now we have seen how the project idea of HelioRec resonates with the SDGs. With floating solar power plants slowly gaining popularity throughout the world, I am excited to see how HelioRec, with its triple solution to save the environment, aces towards success.
By Namrata Vijay Mhaddolkar (Masters Student at Europa-Universität Flensburg and volunteer in HelioRec)