Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The William Kamkwambe story

A few years ago, a 14 year old boy from Mastala, Malawi read a book about windmills. His village had no electricity with which to access radios or the internet, so he decided to build a windmill himself to improve his community's quality of life. Using the pictures in the book as a guide, he built a working windmill that now powers lights, radios and the internet.

His story is inspirational on many levels. When you see someone from the poorest of classes achieve something this useful on his own, it makes you realize how much of humanity is wasted on frivolous pursuits, or worse, harmful actions. How many more William Kamkwambes are there in the world who only need a little inspiration and access to education in order to help build a better world?

Renewable energy is more than merely a cost effective solution. It's a solution that can enable communities to become more self reliant without resorting to poisoning our environment and enriching evil men.

For the Jon Stewart fans among us, William is tonight's guest. See The Daily Show for more.

** I just saw the Daily Show segment with William. I strongly urge you to see it. Go to the site and watch it all the way to the end. The final comment about Google is pitch perfect.



  1. Wow, great story Paul!

    This really speaks to the "energy equity" thing I'm often harping about. It's why the EV community should be expanding our mission/outreach to include smart-garage technologies (I know you are) but specifically looking at policy tools that allow as many people as possible to participate as energy generators, and through V2G, ancillary service providers. This is why I think the battery leasing idea needs to be balanced with an option to own. There's an audio of a Nissan representative talking to a group in Seattle about the Leaf where near the end of the recording he talks about the automakers partnering with utilities. He doesn't say it specifically but it certainly can be inferred that they are positioning themselves to take advantage of the potential revenue streams made possible through V2G.

    On the distributed generation side we should be talking more about feed-in tariffs (FITs, where tariffs = rate paid, not tax) which are the policy tools used in Germany and many other countries such that everyone who wishes to participate as a green energy generator is paid a rate compensated them for the cost of the equipment plus insures a reasonable rate of return on investment for a contract period of usually twenty years. That makes renewable energy a bankable option that inspires investor confidence.

    FITs would turn all of us into William Kamkwambes'! What a great inspiring story!

  2. WOW! We definitely need more Sustaino folks like William. I know they are a moving force that can help us to achieve great initiatives.


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