A one-two hydroelectric power punch
An Ottawa inventor is teaming with boxer Manny Pacquiao to bring a new source of electricity to the Philippines, reports DRAKE FENTON.
An Ottawa inventor working in collaboration with boxing champion Manny Pacquiao is in the midst of parlaying a new source of hydroelectric power into a potential $100-million energy deal in the Philippines.
Fred Ferguson, CEO of Waterotor Energy Technologies, has created the Waterotor — a device capable of harnessing energy from slow-moving water currents. The small, rolling drum-like invention functions in anywhere from one-to-six-m. p.h. currents, generating power by capturing the torque or push of the water.
“The device is the only one in the world that can achieve a high level of energy efficiency at these speeds,” he said.
The company has created a 10-kilowatt and 20-kilowatt unit. On its own, a single Waterotor doesn’t provide a substantial amount of energy. Ferguson said a single 20 kW unit would power about 10 homes per year at the North American standard of energy consumption. But he said multiple units can be placed side by side or in ladder formation to create a greater amount of energy for a region.
And while he admits other forms of hydropower are much more efficient, he said they rely on high water speeds and are unable to maximize the vast amounts of slow moving currents in the world.
Because of this, he believes the Waterotor could become a major source of renewable energy that could compete with or even replace non-renewable energy sources.
“You could easily power the entire eastern seaboard by putting these in Florida in the Gulf Stream,” he said. “There is nothing to suggest that, with this technology, you couldn’t build a 200- or 300-foot unit. People don’t realize water is 830 times more powerful than wind at the same speed and there are 110 major ocean currents on the planet.”
Ferguson said his private Ottawa company of 20 employees has tested the invention and is close to bringing it to market.
And while nothing has been finalized, the Waterotor may make its debut in the Philippines.
Last year, Ferguson was introduced to Pacquiao, the boxing star who is also a Filipino congressman.
“Pacquiao and I connected and got along great,” Ferguson said. “He flew me down to his home in the southern Philippines and he asked if we would set up a partnership.”
Ferguson said he met with top government officials to negotiate a deal to bring 1,000 20-kW units to the country. He said the cost of the deal is valued at $100 million.
“I think it’s going to end up as a joint venture between (Ferguson) and us,” said Michael Koncz, who is Pacquiao’s manager and adviser.
“It’s a tremendous help because there are still a lot of people, especially in (Pacquiao’s) region of Sarangani, that don’t have electricity. So this will be our pilot project to expand it throughout Asia.”
According to the World Bank, there are more than 15 million people in the Philippines without electricity.
While this initial investment would provide power for 15,000 to 20,000 people, Ferguson explained the Philippine government would also like to license the product so it can manufacture the Waterotor itself.
He said the plan is to eventually operate 10,000 units.
A spokesman for the Philippine Embassy in Ottawa said he was not aware of a deal to bring Ferguson’s invention to the island nation, but he said the government is actively pursuing different ways of providing electricity for those without.
And for Ferguson, if all goes according to plan, he said he may be sitting on a billion-dollar invention.
“It’s like going from an apple to being Apple computers inside of a year,” he said.
“It’s crazy stuff. But the technology is that good.”