Electricity cuts are currently affecting every Egyptian home, in rural Egypt and affluent cities alike. Even the high-end neighborhoods of Maadi, Zamalek and Heliopolis are experiencing daily power shortages. Social entrepreneurs have worked hard in the past few years to address the energy problem, and many have come up with different innovative solutions to address the issue using solar or wind energy. But what if you could generate energy only by using the roads?
Khaled Elbahtety, a twenty-two year-old engineering student at Ain Shams University decided to think outside the box. He is currently the CEO of his own startup, GREENewable, and has a team of mechanical and electrical engineering students that helped him manage, design and manufacture a prototype that could change the future of electricity in Egypt.
The idea is to place low-cost wind turbines, on the electrical poles throughout the country's highways, to generate energy. Every car that drives along the highway would contribute to the creation of energy just through the gust created. According to Elbahtety, there will an estimated electricity deficit of 30% in 2014, 15% of which can be covered by the highway wind turbine if installed on 50% of Egypt's highways. The locally manufactured wind turbines would capture the wind generated by the fast moving vehicles on highways.
The GREENewable team conducted a simulation of cars' motion, showcasing that the average wind speed is between eight to fifteen meters per second. This wind speed can sometimes surpass that of kite-surfing hotspot Zaafarana, according to Amr Alaa, one of the team members. The design of each turbine will not exceed US$ 150 and will generate 200 to 300 watts per hour, enough to feed one bulb, says Elbahtety. This innovation is in line with the Egyptian government's long-term plan to generate 20% of electricity consumption from renewable energies by 2020.
The main challenge remains the unfair 'competition' between renewable energies and convention fossil fuel energies, which are backed by government subsidies.
In the meantime, please see the first prototype in the below video: