Let There Be Light – PowerWells Update

Australian startup PowerWells has won a $75,000 (USD) prize CISCO Regional First Runner Up Award in the Asia-Pacific, Japan and China (APJC) region. The company’s solution is for the double global problem electronic waste management and lack of access to basic electricity.

In August 2022, the PowerWells team, comprising Brad Clair (co-founder), Nick Kamols (co-founder), Steph Leahy (strategic advisor), Simon Schmidtke (electrical engineer), James Taylor (software engineer) and Jordan Ream ( Videographer), visited the Sumba Sustainable Solutions (3S) team to assess the pilot project, diagnose any technical issues and also install a number of PowerWells alongside the 3S team.

PowerWells Co-Founder Nicholas Kamols, Partnerships Manager Stephanie Leahy and Co-Founder Bradley Clair process e-waste from Substation33, a PowerWells Lead Partner. Photo courtesy of PowerWells.

One of the issues they dealt with had a fun cause. Unbeknownst to their elders, some children used the energy generated during the day to play games on their mobile devices. At night there was nothing in the battery to power the lights. Alumni reported equipment malfunctioning, but it was all about having fun with the kids. We can try to predict how people will use electricity, but there will always be surprises and wrong assumptions.

This is when the kids plugged their phones and tablets into the system. You can see the paint bucket system in the background. Photo courtesy of PowerWells.

Two hundred and sixty two (262) PowerWells were installed in Sumba. Two-thirds of Sumba’s geographic area can only support one-third of the island’s population. Most of this land is unusable. The Queen of Sumba (who is actually from Victoria in Australia) supports projects that improve the lives of those who live in this impoverished region. She is a huge PowerWells fan.

Let there be light

The power of light for the women of the village of Laindeha. In the villages of Sumba, Indonesia, women can extend the productive hours of the day with light powered by PowerWells, allowing them to earn extra income through activities such as weaving. Photo courtesy of PowerWells.

Another issue discussed during the visit was resolving the OLED screen issue. Without a screensaver, the data was burned onto the screen. The PowerWells team is investigating the use of LEDs to increase light efficiency.

“Going forward, we want to create more scalable processes, local manufacturing, training and employment opportunities for local teams in the field,” says Bradley Claire.

Let there be light

Children can do their homework and spend time after dinner doing their homework. The lengthening of the productive hours of the day has a direct impact on the education of children. Providing light allows children to do their homework. Photo courtesy of PowerWells.

PowerWells is looking for more corporate partnerships in 2023. If you are interested in a hands-on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) workshop that directly impacts the lives of people living without electricity, please contact the team at [email protected]


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