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Engineer and inventor Clement Mokoenene on Friday (9 February) won the South African leg of the Chivas Venture IV competition, walking away with R350 000.
A judging panel consisting of Lucas Radebe, Unathi Msengana and Stafford Masie selected Mokoenene ahead of four other social entrepreneurs for his electricity generation solution, the Vehicle Energy Harvesting System (VEHS).
The winner will now attend a week-long accelerator programme at Oxford University. Thereafter, in May, he will represent South Africa at the global finale of the Chivas Venture 2018 in Amsterdam, where he will compete against 28 other entrants for a share of US$1-million.
“This is such an amazing opportunity, and I know I will do South Africa proud,” he said in a statement.
The Vehicle Energy Harvesting System
In 2011 the engineer observed the impact a landing Airbus A380 had made on a runway.
“That got me thinking about the pressure and heat a plane puts on the runway, and from there I looked at our roads and the potholes which are a clear indication of how much pressure they are under,” he said.
He then started considering ways of harvesting this pressure to generate electricity, leading the inventor to the VEHS.
Mokoenene was inspired to create the Vehicle Energy Harvesting System after observing the impact a landing plane had made on a runway
“The VEHS works by installing an overlay on an existing road, extracting the pressure and transferring it to the side of the road, similar to a wind turbine that then creates electricity,” he explained.
The inventor claims the system generates electricity at a much lower, affordable price than 90% of South African energy — which is generated in coal-fired power stations and has a huge environmental cost.
Diverse entrepreneurial talent
Massie — a former Google country manager as well as founder and CEO of payment solution thumbzup — said he was struck by how each pitch had a massive positive effect on humanity and the environment.
“For me, it wasn’t just the commercial opportunity that impressed me,” he said.
“It was the change that particular innovation could have on eradication of poverty, improving the quality of people’s lives and delivering of services in an environmentally sustainable manner. The winner will represent the SA brand well on the Chivas global competition stage but I hope all the others go on to become significantly successful…for the sake of all mankind!” he added.
In the same statement, Chivas Regal South Africa marketing manager Shelley Reeves said the competition showcased the country’s diverse entrepreneurial talent.
“Every one of the five finalists had come up with an innovative way to solve a challenge that they had identified in their communities and I am convinced that we will hear more from each of them in the future,” said Reeves.
Featured image: Chivas Venture IV winner Clement Mokoenene (Supplied)