Wind energy technologies require careful design by an experienced technical
person to match the wind resource, technology and application, and regular
maintenance from a trained local user.
2.4.1. Small wind turbines (SWTs)
SWTs convert energy in the wind to electricity using blades coupled to a generator.
They are most appropriate for low power requirements (a few watts up to a few
kW), such as lighting (with energy efficient light bulbs), radio, television, charging
mobile phones and small appliances. They are also used with electric water pumps
and small agro-processing machinery. SWTs are only suitable in areas with
moderate - high average wind speeds.
Appropriate technology models are available26 (100W up to 5 Kw) and have been
used in a number of developing countries.27 Horizontal and vertical axis models are
used, although the horizontal axis model is more common. They can be a cheap
alternative to solar PV in areas with a good wind resource; the installed cost of
electricity from a SWT ranges from US$0.30 – 0.80 per kWh.3 SWT systems
include batteries and charge controller and require regular maintenance from a
trained operator.28 SWTs are often combined with solar PV panels and/or diesel
generators to ensure a reliable supply in times of low wind speeds.
A horizontal axis wind turbine: Practical
A vertical axis wind turbine: Paul
SWTs are yet to be widely accepted in developing countries due to the complexity
of assessing wind resources, high maintenance requirements compared to solar
PV and lack of awareness of the technology. SWTs are available through some
international retailers of small-scale renewable energy products but are rarely
found in developing countries. blueEnergy in Latin America is an example of an
NGO implementing SWT projects. They deliver projects on a community service
delivery model (significant project costs coming from grants) and a commercial
service delivery model.
Renewable Energy to Reduce Poverty in Africa