The lamp harnesses energy of gravity acting on a 12kg weight

Gravity-powered lamp wins funding for roll-out in developing world

Image credit: GravityLight Foundation

A gravity-powered lamp designed by a British charity has won funding from Siemens to distribute the technology to 15,000 people in off-grid areas in developing countries by 2017.

Developed by the GravityLight Foundation, the unique light acts on a weight to harness kinetic energy from gravity and power an LED light.

The technology was previously awarded £200,000 by the UK government. The team behind the project is now negotiating with Peru and Indonesia and hopes to distribute the technology to 100,000 people by 2018.

The innovation succeeded against 800 submissions from 88 countries in a competition run by Siemens Stiftung, a foundation of German engineering firm Siemens that promotes sustainable social development.

The foundation’s Global contest focuses on innovative low-tech solutions that can sustainably improve lives in developing countries.

The lamp consists of an LED light attached to a sturdy beam or hook with strong zip ties. It transforms the pull of gravity into electricity, providing instant power with the lift of a 12-kilogram weight, such as a bag of rocks or sand. The generated electricity feeds the lamp, which is six times brighter than a kerosene lamp, for 20 minutes.

According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), about 1.2 billion people in developing countries have no access to energy. This often forces them to use dangerous, polluting and expensive kerosene lamps for lighting.

Many of the families live on less than $3 a day, which means their kerosene spend may account for up to 30 per cent of their income.

“It is now imperative that these great solutions reach as many lives as possible, and as fast as possible”, said Rolf Huber, Managing Director of the Siemens Stiftung. “We have a global network of dedicated and experienced experts at hand to partner with the winners and we are looking forward to accompanying them on their further, often difficult, entrepreneurial journey from now on.”

GravityLight Foundation is currently testing assembly in Kenya, hoping to create skilled jobs and boost local economy.

The engineers hope to create similar gravity powered torches and rechargeable radios in the future.

Listen to E&T’s exclusive interview with GravityLight founder Jim Reeves


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