In November 2019 we were pleasantly surprised to receive incredible news from a customer about how WaterLily was making a positive impact on the lives of people living in Vanuatu, an area without access to electricity:
Last December I ordered a 12v Waterlily Turbine and took it sailing with me to the tropical Vanuatu island of Malakula in the South Pacific. I have met several people that live on the island over the years and they subsist live. That means they live growing their food, fishing and living without electricity. This is a developing nation of hundreds of islands just like Malakula and each island is lush, green and has lots of small streams where the villages are located. The climate is hot and the villages are generally located in the bush for shade making solar power difficult. Combine this with a lack of knowledge of batteries and the contamination of used batteries to the environment and I thought microhydroelectic power would be just the answer. All these people are looking for is a light at night to read by or something to charge their cell phones (a new addition to their lives from aid money from developed nations). Your turbine was perfect. In two weeks or so I will send you pictures/video of your unit in action. My intention is to return to Vanuatu with more of your turbines and bring more light to the people. I would suggest you explore this as part of your market. The units are perfect for this purpose.”
To say this message put a smile on our faces is an understatement! Since we began delivering WaterLily turbines to customers in 2018, we have hoped to go beyond the consumer market to use our technology to help improve the lives of people in energy poor areas.
Gary soon ordered three more WaterLily turbines for his next trip to Vanuatu and we chipped in by sending out an additional three units for him to distribute. We were intrigued and had to know more about the people living in Vanuatu, and how they could benefit from WaterLily. We asked him for more details about the community where he was donating the turbines and the impact it was having. He was kind enough to give us a few more details:
I have been sailing to Vanuatu for 12 years. Over those years I have met and befriended several villages close to the anchorages I visit. All of these villages are without electricity and have several small streams close to the houses. To me it was perfect for a small hydroelectric unit. I tried without success to make a unit myself but then saw your unit in an airline magazine and knew it would be perfect. There is no electricity for the villages I visit and solar is not that practical because of the need for batteries and the house being in the shade of the bush. All these people want is a small light at night and to charge a cell phone. You have to understand these people live in very remote areas where there are no roads, cars, reticulated water, etc. They live by growing what they eat and fishing. They don't have paying jobs; they subsist live. The people of the island of Malekula are quite intelligent (most children by the age of 10 speak 5 languages) but they are not well educated in electricity. A water turbine is very intuitive compared to a solar panel and batteries. Having the small amount of renewable sustainable and reliable electricity from a WaterLily turbine could have a huge impact on the lives of these villages. Having a light at night to read by could allow their children to increase their education by heaps. Being in reliable touch with the rest of the world through a cell phone you can imagine. Think of a crying child in the middle of the night and a mother who can now flip a switch and have a light to find out what is wrong. There are other places in Vanuatu but I know this island and these people so that is where I am concentrating my efforts. When I heard the screams of delight upon turning on the light for the first time I felt like God who said, "And let there be light." … I have purchased two more WaterLily units that I intend to give to the villagers this July/August. When I do that I will see how the unit I gave them last year is working and what comments they have. I hope this is of some assistance to you."
Cheers, Gary Tettelbach
Gary’s heart warming story won’t be the last, either! Starting in 2020 we’re launching a new initiative to #EndEnergyPoverty globally. We have the technology and the manufacturing capability, but when it comes to distribution in energy poor areas we’re starting from scratch. We need people on the ground in energy poor areas who know where the problems are and can help deliver the solution.
We believe Ending energy poverty is the catalyst to improved quality of life, health and safety for those who live in developing regions. We’re not out to create mega projects and huge new electrical grids. Many people choose and enjoy their subsistence lifestyle. But living off the land shouldn’t mean not being able to finish your schoolwork or work on your business after the sun sets. In times of emergency the ability to make a phone call or receive weather reports could come down to the ability to charge a mobile phone or radio. Technology exists for the benefit of everyone, and everyone deserves access.
If you or your organization can help us achieve our mission of ending energy poverty, please get in touch.
Do you have a WaterLily story you would like to share? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org