Logan startup charges ahead in remote communities

A LOGAN startup that uses recycled laptop batteries and old paint or cooking oil tins to build solar power kits that provide off-grid electricity is charging ahead in remote communities.

PowerWells solar-powered battery packs are built from e-waste and are used in 11 Indonesian villages.

It is one of 10 Logan and Redland businesses that participated at Myriad, offering assistance and mentorship to businesses through the Queensland government’s economic development initiative Advancing Regional Innovation Program. 

Powerwells co-founder Nick Kamols welcomed government support, introductions and advice.

“Through events like Myriad and startup weekends, we’ve been refining our business ideas and getting our story out to hundreds of people. We’ve gained some terrific leads that are starting to benefit us,” he said.  

“We started only six months ago and without the help … to fund our recent community engagement trip, our product might not be what people living in remote areas need.  

“Our power-generation kit is installed in 11 Indonesian villages but there are thousands of others across Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and the Pacific Islands without reliable electricity that would benefit from our work. 

“We believe we can help people living in very remote parts of Queensland too.

“By ramping up local production we will create jobs in Logan.”  

PowerWells salvages laptop batteries that still have life and get tossed away.

It packs everything except a solar panel into old 20-litre paint or cooking oil tins to create a kit that can be assembled quickly to provide a small, off-grid energy supply system for a local community. The cost is about $200. 

Mr Kamols said villagers use the power for lighting and for staying connected to the outside world. 

Queensland innovation minister Kate Jones said ARIP  helped  regional startups like Powerwells make global connections and secure supporters and investors.

“Powerwells have found a terrific use for electronic waste that reduces landfill and could be a game changer for people in isolated communities around the globe,” she said. 

“Not only will their innovation make the world a better place, this concept has huge commercial potential. That’s why we’re investing in companies like Powerwells – to create sustainable jobs in places like Logan.

Other Logan and Redland businesses that exhibited at Myriad were Substation 33, EC Connect, Global Community Resourcing, STOCR, Freelance Robotics, Switchnodes, Adieu, BOP Industries, and Space Plants Pty Ltd.

They joined delegates from Far North Queensland, North Queensland, Mackay-Isaac-Whitsunday, Outback Queensland, Fitzroy, Wide Bay Burnett, Darling Downs and Maranoa, Sunshine Coast, Moreton Bay, Ipswich and West Moreton and the Gold Coast.

Under ARIP, the 12 regions each receive $500,000 over three years to encourage collaborative region-wide projects that support the local economy and create jobs.

Learn more at the Advance Queensland website