Philanthropist innovates to produce electricity from stationary cycles

  • Jose Kalathil/SNS

    December 1, 2015 | 06:53 AM
Philanthropist innovates to produce electricity from stationary cycles

Even though Uttarakhand is a power surplus state,there is no electricity in the rural areas. There, schools and households manage day-to-day affairs without power. "For such people in 50 countries in Asia and Africa, the 'Free Electric,' a stationary bicycle that can generate electricity will be helpful," said Indian-American billionaire philanthropist, Manoj Bhargava.

It took two-and-a-half years for his Stage 2 Innovations, to innovate this cycle. He has pledged 99 per cent of his fortune to finding solutions that can help people across the world. He was here to unveil the bicycle in his country of birth. Its world release will take place later. Born in Lucknow, Bhargava migrated to the US at the age of 14. His net worth is estimated to be at $4 billion.

He said these bicycles are expected to benefit 1.3 billion middle class people. They will also benefit many village schools and small industries like powerlooms. “This bicycle generates power while pedaling. This healthy exercise turns a flywheel, which spins a generator that charges the attached battery,” Bhargava said.

Since it is 80 per cent bicycle, one can even fix it with a screw. No expertise is necessary. The energy produced can either be used instantly or stored in the battery that lasts for three to four years.

A new battery will cost Rs.1,200 to Rs.1,500. Since it has a comfortable seat, aged people or women can also run it.Rats,monkeys,drought, tsunami,etc.,can damage solar panels but not these bicycles. To be priced between Rs.12,000 and Rs.15,000, it will have two models, one for India and the other for the US.

In India, two companies will manufacture 10,000 pieces by next March. This not-for-profit venture, he clarified, won't help a refrigerator or fan run.

One hour of pedaling can meet a rural household's electricity needs of 24 hours thus saving electricity bills or fuel costs. "It&’s pollution-free too," he said. Bhargava said he had met Prime Minister Narendra Modi once but he has no intention to collaborate with the government. “...if I go to a government department...they are not bad people but efficiency is zero. Besides, it will take six months to decide which department should help me out,” he said.

Free Electric was featured in his documentary film, Billions in Change. He is also the founder of Hans Foundation. He is best known in the United States for creating the popular two-ounce drink 5-Hour ENERGY. In 1990, he founded a plastics company that grew to $20 million in sales before selling to a private equity firm. With this money, he started Living Essentials, which became a success with the product.

Two companies will manufacture 10,000 pieces by next March.