- James van der Walt
- South Africa
Social Entrepreneur, Ugesi Gold
Social Renewable business with the help of the MIT battery
We have areas in Africa that don’t have access to most of the basics. This includes water, sanitation as well as electricity. Yet these people have the will to make their lives better if you show them how. I think that the energy crisis is a great opportunity to fight poverty. What if someone was to teach these communities on how to construct cheap renewable generators? What if the technology used is so simple that they can build and maintain them without the help of fancy engineers?
With some simple designs and a little bit of help they can make an income for their local economy as they sell this much needed clean energy. This will fight poverty and climate degradation while at the same time helping with the energy crisis. But how do they get the electricity to where it’s needed? They can’t afford copper cables. These cables will also get stolen quickly and sold as scrap metal (a major problem in South Africa – link to poverty of course).
This is where the MIT battery comes in. By letting these communities charge these big batteries they can be shipped to where the electricity is needed and sold. These batteries can also connect to the grid so they can sell to the national grid as well. They will have no shortage of buyers for the electricity. The question is just how much can they produce and how efficiently can be distributed where it is needed.
What other technologies do you think can help? I’m currently working on an ocean generator that can be built from scrap material and there are some really simple wind generators. The key is to keep is simple as well as cheap. Remember these generators are built in rural villages. They can’t build massive solar PV panels even though the Chinese are selling them cheaply. It has to be sustainable. If they want to expand their generating capability they must be able to go to the local scrap yard and put “most” of it together themselves. Dependency must be kept at a minimum.