Electricity thanks to a merry-go-round
Generating electricity through play. That’s the simple but inspired idea of an American humanitarian organization: Empower Playgrounds, which specializes in electricitygenerating playground equipment for children in deprived countries.
In Pediatorkope, a tiny impoverished island in southeast Ghana, the locals don’t have electricity. The island is not linked to the national energy grid. To bring them electric light, Empower Playgrounds had the idea of installing a special merry-go-round in the playground of a local primary school. When the children push and spin it around, it powers a turbine which creates energy. The merry-go-round also recharges batteries which can power energy-saving LED lamps for more than 40 hours.
The children are responsible for recharging the batteries during their playtime. In the evening they take these lamps home. The idea is life-changing, because until now, it was difficult to have light when night fell. Thanks to these lamps — which are less dangerous than the oil-lamps which many villagers use — they can continue their studies and do their homework at home. As a result, students are getting better results at school because of this ingenious invention.
“Before, we couldn’t give the children work to do at home because it was dark when they got back after school. As a result they had poor results at school, whereas now, thanks to these lamps, they are making progress,” a teacher told the media. This has the further advantage of students being able to continue their education after primary school.
The merry-go-round project is already in place in 42 schools out of the 40,000 across the country. This African nation is often affected by electricity shortages which interrupt the everyday lives of its inhabitants, particularly those who live out in the countryside.
The humanitarian organization is also launching another project, setting up a small factory producing solar energy — which Africa has no shortage of! — on the island. Locals can buy a battery which will power several lamps, as well as charge their mobile phones. The battery lasts a month and costs approximately 1.30 euros (US$1.47) to recharge. This money pays for maintenance at the solar energy plant.
This invention looks set to have a bright future. It’s estimated that throughout the world, around 600 million people do not have the means of lighting their homes, with Africa the continent worst affected.
When the children push and spin the merry-go-around, it powers a turbine which creates energy and recharges lamp batteries.