Engineering award finalist inspired by pensioner father being unable to afford to bath - Times LIVE
   
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Mon May 29 13:31:06 SAST 2017

Engineering award finalist inspired by pensioner father being unable to afford to bath

Jan Bornman | 2017-05-17 19:56:19.0
Andre Nel's invention the GreenTower Microgrid‚ a hybrid‚ solar microgrid uses 90% less energy to heat water than a geyser. File photo
Image by: Southafrica.cleantechopen.org

Andre Nel‚ one of the finalists for this year's Africa engineering innovation top honour in the Royal Academy of Engineering Prize awards‚ said he was inspired by his father when he told him he couldn't afford to bath anymore.

Nel‚ 55‚ who worked on the South African Space Programme before it was shutdown‚ said it inspired him to find a solution that would drastically reduce the cost of heating water.

"It started when my father‚ who is a pensioner‚ told me that he couldn't really afford to take a bath anymore‚" Nel said.

"I realised it was a major problem in South Africa and on the continent. It was shocking for me‚ but also a huge inspiration to start working on a solution‚" he said.

Nel's invention‚ the GreenTower Microgrid‚ a hybrid‚ solar microgrid which uses 90% less energy to heat water than a geyser‚ has seen him become one of four finalists in the Royal Academy of Engineering's Engineering Innovation prize in Africa‚ with the winner set to be announced next week on Tuesday in Nairobi‚ Kenya.

Nel is up against three other finalists from Nigeria‚ Kenya and Uganda‚ with prize money of £25‚000 for the winner and £10‚000 for each of the other finalists.

"The privilege to work with other entrepreneurs and sharing knowledge was unbelievable‚" he said. "The enthusiasm and problems that people are solving are inspirational."

Nel said it was important for him and his company to reach as many people as possible to improve the lives of millions of people.

"Our goal for the next 10 years is to reach millions of people and we are currently busy with fundraising to achieve that goal‚" he said.

Nel said as a young and small company‚ it was difficult to enter the market. But with competitions such as this and the backing of institutions such as the Royal Academy‚ it would enable his company to reach the millions of people they wanted to.

TMG Digital/TimesLIVE

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