Young bulbs light up Mexico

Marco Crescenzi | 5 February 2016

“I need a cure. If light goes off I’m calm, my medicines are safe. The emegency device is activated and I have power for half an hour more.” José Antonio Gutierrez lives in a suburban area in Mexico City. For work he needed to light up his room and have enough power for his fridge to keep the right temperature for his medicines.

Thanks to Iluméxico by Manuel Wiechers, a 25-years old engineer, all this has been possible.

Sometimes it occurs to have a flash of light. Sometimes this is the start of our best ideas. A problem and a sudden intuition lighting up like a bulb. A bulb is the symbol of Iluméxico, an enlightened ecosustainability project using green energy to catch the light of Mexico.

Three years ago, Manuel participated to a summit on energy and understood how a change might have happened. He says: “During the summit I understood the importance of renewable energies in the development of rural communities and the value of green energy, mainly in my Country, as a practical way to solve problems”.

The people who can’t have access to electricity are 1.44 billion in the world, and approximately 640 000 families are in Mexico. Entrepreneurship, energy and social impact are the strong points of this programme. It aims at supporting the local economy and its consequent growth in terms of technology and its practical application, as well as facing climate change problems and facilitating integration in the poorer areas.

Manuel goes on: “So I put together a group of young engineers. I meant to start working on a concrete solution. A few months later, the first relevant results: above all, the diffusion of Prometheus”. “Prometheus” is a low-cost system composed of solar panels allowing to have an external and internal lighting in the full respect of nature. “We developed a special cable which optimises the use of bacteries allowing them to have a longer duration. Then we focused our attention on the automatic and manual setting of the device, made of 10-W photovoltaic cells in order to better manage its potentialities”.

Young, green and penniless, but these guys have a strong will. Manuel has set up an association and made a number of proposals to help minors and social services, even if we still don’t see the “light” at the end of the tunnel. In Mexico the government manages light distribution and energy regulation interventions are still not well developed, while financing is lacking.

However, thanks to these young guys now José is more serene.

Something else may impede the success of this idea, like Manuel explains: “We’re young, maybe too young, but youth does not always mean scarce credibility. There’s still a long way but we’re doing our best, we are aware of our abilities and rely on them”.

This “bright” idea is now a real start-up and starts being profitable for its founders. Will someone make Italy “bright” as well? 

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