Renewable energy turbines as a driver for development
Fabián Suárez has developed a solution to provide electricity to communities without resources
The turbine has been a part of human life for more than two millennia. This simple mechanism underpins e.Ray, designed to help tackle the problem of a lack of electricity, which affects almost one billion people worldwide according to data from the International Energy Agency. Mechanical engineer, Fabián Suárez, and his company have found a solution: creating a hydrokinetic turbine which will provide developing communities with clean energy.
The e.Rays are installed in rivers with a sufficient flow-rate to turn the turbine. When the mechanism moves, it generates energy for the benefit of neighbouring communities. Due to its continuous movement, it can produce electricity day and night, thus allowing the communities around it to continue their activities after sunset. Furthermore, it is complemented by solar panels above water in order to produce even more electricity.
Fabián Suárez, 32 years old, is a mechanical engineer from Colombia who co-founded e.Ray in Darmstadt, Germany in 2015, after having moved to the country to finish his studies. He believes that this solution could bring prosperity to the people they work with. Communities have found different uses for the electricity generated, including powering water treatment plants, refrigeration units and lighting for public buildings, streets and schools. They currently have projects in the Upper Nile region and the Volta river basin, as well as in some areas in Latin America.
What is more, the solution proposed by Suárez and his partners goes even further: it is equipped with a number of sensors which measure the flow-rate of the river, the temperature and the precipitation level. This has a dual objective: on the one hand, to collect data on the river to sell to interested insurance companies and on the other, to help prevent high water levels and floods by detecting anomalies in the current or water level of the river.
This young engineer was awarded one of the prizes for 2018’s Latin American Innovators Under 35 by the publication MIT Technology Review in Spanish. He explains the benefits of his project: "Thanks to this solution, we have ensured sustainability in addition to a financial return. It is not about gifting items to communities, but rather about creating development through shared value”.