D J Wimalasurendra (Sri Lanka, 1975)
An engineer and statesman, D J Wimalasurendra has the rather splendid nickname of the “Father of Hydropower” in Sri Lanka. Lacking government support, he built the country’s first hydropower station and seems to have been obsessed. Sent to the Aberdeen Lasakana Falls in the 1910s to search for gold, he saw instead the falls’ potential for hydropower and began a long campaign to build a power station there. Despite political opposition, uncertainty over the technology, lack of investment and some downright bad luck, the hydropower station was finally built and launched in 1950. Wimalasurendra died three years later.