In contrast to the high tech we experienced at the Solar Decathlon, we went to an event where William Kamkwamba spoke about how he built a windmill out of scrap material and brought electricity to his rural village in Malawi.

Growing up poor, William had to leave school when his family was unable to pay the fees. He finds a diagram of a windmill in a book on energy at the village library and decides to build one to bring electricity to his family home.

Relying on diagrams since he is not able to read the (English) textbook, William uses materials found in junkyard (discarded motor parts, PVC pipe, etc) and at the age of 14 built a windmill. Remarkable.

William’s story is told in The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind. You can read more at the Moving Windmills Project which supports Malawian-run rural economic development and education projects in Malawi.