John is helping to power up villages

John Simnett (front left) with some of the residents in Patagonia who he helped teach renewable energy skills to.
John Simnett (front left) with some of the residents in Patagonia who he helped teach renewable energy skills to.

Villagers in a remote part of South America have been taught skills to develop their own electricity thanks to a Whitley Bay man.

John Simnett spent four weeks in Patagonia, in the south of Chile, as part of a project to help people build and develop their own renewable energy schemes.

The work was part of locally-based charity Window on the World’s Bridge Planet Education project, which is devoted to the development of small renewable energy systems suitable for self-construction projects.

John, who travelled to Patagonia with his wife, taught a series of workshops teaching local people how to make wind generators which could then be used to generate electricity.

John said: “There are 1.5-million people in the world who have no access to electricity.

“The charity is aiming to change this and enable communities to generate their own electricity.

“Teaching practical workshops in wind generators is something I have been developing for 20 years.

“I have been involved in visiting several countries in South America and Africa where people have no access to mains electricity.”

John helped set up the Window on the World charity, and is now one of three trustees.

He said: “My wife and I spent four weeks in Chile. I taught a series of workshops out there.

“I taught three main workshops – one in the city, one in the village and one to a selective group of people who are committed to carrying this project forward.

“There is only one builders merchants and one city in this part of Chile, they are far away from any form of electrical power.

“During the workshops I taught them how to make small wind generators from my own design.

“The generators can charge a 12V battery and from that they can then operate useful equipment, lighting and produce charge for mobile phones, laptops, computers and sewing machines so they can make or fix their own clothes.

“What we’ve got to do now is follow this up.

“We’ve taught people how to make these, they’ve made five generators, now we’ve got to teach them how to link it up to a domestic system around the home.”

For more on the project visit www.bright-planet.org.uk