Power-Cycle Provides Simple and Sustainable Energy in Africa

Nuru Energy was founded in 2008 with the central focus of solving global energy poverty.   Worldwide, more than 2 billion people currently lack a basic source of reliable energy. In response to this crisis, Nuru Energy developed a recharging platform that is simple, robust, off-grid and specifically designed for use in regions struggling to meet their most basic energy needs. This devise is known as the POWERCycle™ pedal generator. The power station looks like a cross between a wooden lawn chair and a simplistic stationary exercise bicycle with a small charging doc to which the pedals are attached. This contraption runs on human powered energy to provide sustainable, clean and reliable energy whenever it is needed. It is drastically more efficient than solar-based solutions and checks in at only a fraction of the price.

With the PowerCycle™, devices such as mobile phones and portable modular LED lights (designed by Nuru Energy) can be charged. In just 20 minutes of light pedaling, five of these lights can be simultaneously charged, each providing more than a weeks worth of lighting to a rural household in need. Furthermore, the PowerCycle™ is simple, versatile, durable and sustainable. Its simple construction is human-powered (with either hands or feet). It is portable and can be used to charge a variety of Nuru Energy Devices. This product is truly sustainable in a variety of ways. It charges devices directly meaning that there is no need for an internal battery, it has a high level of efficiency and almost no power is lost converting human energy to usable electricity. It is constructed from locally available recycled or discarded materials. Furthermore, while it is quite durable, its simple design from local materials makes maintenance easy.

Aside from helping provide basic and sustainable energy services, this innovation also helps to support the development of local entrepreneurship. The company uses a bottom-up approach with the focus on community needs to deliver its products to the market. By working with local organizations, Nuru Energy recruits and trains residents to become micro-franchise entrepreneurs. For a small-price, Nuru sells a PowerCycle™ recharging platform and a given amount of its LED rechargeable lights to the entrepreneur who then rents out the light bulbs and charging services to community members. In 20 minutes, this provides the sales person with a source of income equivalent to what they would normally generate in an entire day, while reducing the cost of energy for local consumers. It also generates innovative and sustainable employment for the community.

For its success in the field of social innovation and energy poverty reduction, Nuru Energy has received prestigious global awards including the 2010 UNDP World Business and Development Award and the 2010 UNEP Sasakawa Prize.

By Bonnie Lewtas

Sept. 9th, 2014

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