Twerly™ is a renewable energy powered streetlight, which provides off-grid lighting. Each streetlight is fitted with a security camera. Apart from providing reliable lighting the Twerly relays security related images to the control centre using the GSM network and can also be fitted with a WIFI hotspot. Powered by a combination system of a vertical axis wind turbine, a solar panel and rechargeable battery system, off-grid communities around South Africa and the rest of the continent can have their lives transformed in hours through street lighting, surveillance and Internet connectivity.

Being completely independent of the grid, the system continues operating when there is a power failure. It starts operating as soon as it is installed and is not affected by cable theft.

The Twerly™ team is interested in seeing the lives of people transformed in rural areas through the construction of South Africa’s first connected neighbourhood using what is known as a wireless mesh network. This would bring services such as telemedicine, banking and education to isolated communities, as well as new neighbourhoods – without the cost of having to install a network of copper cables to connect the streetlights.

A six-member team of researchers from Nelson Mandela University’s Renewable Energy Research Group invented the first-generation renewable energy streetlight in 2007. Led by engineering professor, Russell Phillips, the group sought to create an innovative renewable energy-harvesting device that would best service community needs.

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