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Let there be light
Photo courtesy of PowerWells.


Let There Be Light — PowerWells Update

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

In August 2022, the PowerWells team, including 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. 

Let there be light

PowerWells Co-Founder Nicholas Kamols, Partnerships Manager Stephanie Leahy, and Co-Founder Bradley Clair processing electronic waste out of Substation33, a core partner for PowerWells. Photo courtesy of PowerWells.

One of the issues they dealt with had an amusing cause. Without their elders’ knowledge, some children were using the power generated during the day to play games on their mobile devices. At night there was nothing in the battery to power the lights. The elders reported a malfunction of the equipment, but it was all about kids having fun. We can try and predict how people will use electricity, but there will always be surprises and wrong assumptions.

Let there be light

This is the moment the kids hooked up their phones and tablets to the system. You can see the paint bucket system in the background. Photo courtesy of PowerWells.

Two hundred and sixty two (262) PowerWells have been installed in Sumba. Two thirds of the Sumba geographical area can only support one third of the population of the island. Most of this land is unusable. The Queen of Sumba (who actually comes from Victoria in Australia) is supportive of projects that improve the lives of those living in this impoverished area. She is a great fan of the PowerWells.

Let there be light

The power of light for women of Laindeha Village. In villages in Sumba, Indonesia, women are able to extend productive hours of the day with light powered by PowerWells, allowing them to earn additional income from activities including weaving. Photo courtesy of PowerWells.

Another issue dealt with on the visit was solving the problem of the OLED screen. Without a screen saver, the data was being burnt into the screen. The PowerWells team is looking into the use of LED to increase the efficiency of the light.

“In the future we want to create more scalable processes, local manufacturing, training and employment opportunities for local teams on the ground,” states Bradley Claire.

Let there be light

Children are able to do homework and spend time after dinner completing homework. Extending productive hours of the day has a direct impact on kids education. Providing light allows children to do homework. Photo courtesy of PowerWells.

PowerWells is looking for more corporate partnerships in 2023. If you are interested in a “hands on” team-building corporate social responsibility (CSR) workshop that directly impacts the lives of people living without electricity, please reach out to the team at

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Written By

David Waterworth is a retired teacher who divides his time between looking after his grandchildren and trying to make sure they have a planet to live on. He is long on Tesla [NASDAQ:TSLA].


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