South African innovator develops solar-powered blinds

Meet Lisa von Benecke, a 29-year-old South African with a bright idea to combat load-shedding and empower renters and those in shared living situations. Her invention? Solar-powered blinds!

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Frustrated by limited power options in her own rented space, von Benecke developed a prototype for these blinds in her stepfather’s garage. Now, her cleantech company, LC Dynamics, is on the cusp of launching a revolutionary product.

These innovative blinds seamlessly blend functionality with aesthetics. They resemble standard Venetian blinds, but each slat is a solar panel crafted from recycled solar cells. Connected by cables, the slats work together to generate power, storing it in a control unit with a battery.  Ideally placed in north-facing windows, these blinds can be customized to fit various window sizes.

For added convenience, an optional motorized component automatically adjusts the slats throughout the day to maximize sun exposure. This ensures optimal solar production and the ability to power devices like smartphones, laptops, power banks, and even light bulbs.

Von Benecke’s creation has garnered well-deserved recognition. Her blinds placed within the top three in innovation competitions run by Unisa (where she’s currently pursuing an electronic engineering degree) and Total Energy. These accolades have translated into financial support, with a combined R450,000 in funding from government agencies and competitions.

LC Dynamics is aiming to begin commercial production by the end of 2024, with an estimated starting price of R5,000. This positions von Benecke amongst prominent South African green tech innovators, alongside Professor Vivian Alberts’ groundbreaking thin-film solar modules.

Von Benecke’s solar-powered blinds are a testament to South Africa’s ingenuity in the clean energy sector. This invention empowers individuals with the ability to generate their own power, offering a promising solution for a more sustainable future.