Augustin Woelz

Ashoka Fellow
Fellow Since 2005


This profile was prepared when Augustin Woelz was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2005.
The New Idea
Augustin Woelz believes that all families should have access to electricity and hot water, and so he has invented a low-cost solar heating unit that can be used and afforded by even the poorest Brazilian families. In addition, he has created a new distribution system for his renewable energy technologies which involves Brazil’s teachers and the students they reach.
Augustin taps into young people’s interest in science-based projects. To reach large numbers of youth, he takes advantage of teachers’ accessibility, providing them with the tools they need to integrate solar technology construction into their coursework. The crux of the process is a workshop which prepares teachers to train students and colleagues alike in the construction methods. They receive a simple manual to share with their students—also available on the organization’s open-source Web site—as well as a free sample kit to get started. With only this do-it-yourself kit, households are capable of substantially reducing their electricity costs while simultaneously reducing the social and environmental costs of excess electricity consumption.
Augustin’s distribution system turns the traditional technology paradigm up side down. It empowers families to build their own energy production systems in a process led by youth—typically voiceless members of society. Augustin knows that his work not only brings economic benefits to families, but also helps develop new leadership roles for young people in society.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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