By Celine Lai

A prize-winning invention by Jeremiah Thoronka harnesses renewable energy from busy roads.

He just built a machine that uses kinetic energy from cars driving on the road to provide renewable energy for 10,000 people.

He’s just 21.

“Access to energy is a human right. We cannot function in an energy-less society.”

Those were Jeremiah Thoronka’s thoughts as he looked back on his childhood in war-torn Sierra Leone. Even today, only six percent of rural residents in Sierra Leone have access to electricity, relying instead on expensive batteries or kerosene.

When he was 17, Jeremiah founded Optim Energy, a startup that harnesses the kinetic energy of objects in motion and converts it into emissions-free electricity. It is powering hundreds of homes and over a dozen schools.


Jeremiah is also one of the World Wildlife Fund’s top African conservation leaders. He plans to spend his prize money to expand Optim Energy to reach 100,000 people by 2030.

Politico Online reports that actor and humanitarian Hugh Jackson said:

“Students everywhere are on the frontline of the greatest challenges of our time: from climate change to global inequality. So we must listen to their voices and shine a light on their stories.”

Jeremiah was the winner of the inaugural Global Student Prize 2021, and was awarded $100,000 USD. This is a new Global Student Prize awarded to an exceptional student, making a real impact on learning and on society. is the impact, advocacy, and research arm of Chegg: addressing the issues facing the modern student. The Global Student Prize is open to all students who are at least 16 years old and enrolled in an academic institution or training and skills programme.

The award offers the chance to become engaged in national and international discussions on policy and campaigns affecting students and student education.

Organisations like the Varkey Foundation who administers this award and innovative students like Jeremiah give us hope and faith that the world will change to non-polluting and non-warming renewable energy and other sustainable practices.

We all need to support and share and collaborate on initiatives like Jeremiah’s.

We have the technology for energy worldwide to be non-polluting and non-warming.

Political will and collaboration within and across countries is needed to catapult humanity into the new century.  Our government leaders should heed that business and private sectors are forging ahead with renewable energy technology.

It’s time for Australia to not “miss the boat”, to ditch new coal and gas, and to look after the well-being of all of their residents, rather than get left behind with an economic bust.