Wind Empowerment

Wind Empowerment is a global association for the development of locally-manufactured small wind turbines (SWTs) for sustainable rural electrification. It aims to strengthen the capacity of its members through collaboration and knowledge exchange to promote and support small wind technology as a viable solution for rural electrification.

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Review: Wind Empowerment's 2018 Conference In Chennai, India

News from WISIONS posted on February 8th, 2019

The 4th Wind Empowerment International Conference, WEIndia2018, recently took place in Chennai, India. The coordinators have now published a detailed review of their experiences – read it here!Read moreMinimize

For the first time, before the actual conference, Wind Empowerment organised an 8-day series of hands-on manufacturing workshops with more than 100 participants from around the world. During the workshops hosted at NIWE’s warehouse and conference areas, the participants were instructed by Wind Empowerment trainers to construct all parts of a wind turbine, from blades and generator to tower and electronics. The non-patented designs by small wind expert Hugh Piggott were used to manufacture two wind turbines (800W and 500W), and open designs, developed by practitioners within the Wind Empowerment network, to construct a wooden tower, fiberglass blades, a water pumping system, a charge controller, a datalogger and modular power electronics. The constructed equipment was then assembled, bench tested, installed and field tested at NIWE’s Wind Turbine Test Station.

After the workshops, three days of conference and roundtables allowed representatives of wind energy from around the world to exchange their knowledge and delve deeper into technical and methodological discussions. This has been an opportunity to focus on technical details with major importance such as the height of the mast and the placement of the system and discuss a wide variety of topics: Standards, Testing and Quality Control, Micro-Grid opportunities, Distributed power electronics, Productive uses, Market Assessment and Sustainability Assessment of small wind turbines for rural development amongst others. On this occasion, international projects were also presented, such as experiences from Nepal, France, Tanzania, Peru and Argentina.

International interest

The workshops and conference were attended by more than 150 participants from 40 different countries. Many of them were foreign government representatives, from each country’s Ministry of Energy or National Electrification Agency, who were invited by the Secretary of the Indian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to participate, as well as representatives from NGOs, universities, entrepreneurs, students from the renewable energy sector and enthusiasts.

The different rates of access to electrification between countries generate different interests for participation in these conferences. For countries with high electrification, it is an environmental issue to develop or initiate renewable energies.

The stakes are different for countries with low electrification rates. The small wind turbine represents a solution for isolated sites on the one hand for its relatively simple implementation, on the other hand because it is a source of clean energy. The participants from these countries have a strong interest in wind energy and this workshop and conference has only increased the desire to get started, but several obstacles have been highlighted. Apart from the economic brakes, the wind is still unknown in comparison to solar energy and the lack of expertise is a problem for the installation and maintenance. Moreover, it is necessary to make a preliminary study of places where small wind can be installed, to have a map of the winds of the country, all this requires time. The conference has contributed to the improvement of knowledge in the wind field for each country and also made for exchanges between the different countries and also with the Wind Empowerment network.

Future partnerships

These two intense weeks have been rich in information, generating great interest and momentum among participants. Nehemia Rong, tomato and pepper producer from Manipur (North East India), leaves with the idea of installing a wind turbine for his farm. José Armando Gastelo-Roque from Peru does research at the university and works at WAIRA (which means "wind" in Quechua), a company working on renewable energies. Sebastian Ochoa from Colombia works in a company generating energy from biogas. Both would like to set up a Wind Empowerment project in their respective countries.

From India alone, four organisations have become members of Wind Empowerment: KCG College of Technology, Revayu Systems, Gramin Tantradyan Sanstha and KAC Fibres.

Wind Empowerment coordinator Jessica Rivas hopes that these events will be the first step on a positive direction moving small wind forward in India and across the world. “Tools, knowledge and expertise has been shared with an international audience, now it is time to transfer and spread what was learnt in Chennai with the people back home.” The wind rises!


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Introduction

Wind Empowerment is an association for the development of locally manufactured small wind turbines for sustainable rural electrification. They represent dozens of member organisations, consisting of wind turbine manufacturers, NGOs, universities, social enterprises, cooperatives, training centres, as well as over 1,000 individual participants across the world.

The association was founded in 2011 at the World Social Forum in Dakar, Senegal. The aim was to bridge the geographical gap between its members by providing a global platform for knowledge sharing and collaboration.

Shortly after the inaugural event in Dakar, the online platform windempowerment.org was created, which allowed knowledge to be exchanged via webinars, a document library, a discussion forum, news articles and, of course, by Skype and email.

Mission & Goals 

Wind Empowerment supports the development of locally-built wind turbines for sustainable rural electrification by strengthening the capacity of its members globally through:

  • Building and sharing financial and human resource connections
  • Performing joint technical research, sharing technical information and collaborating on key vendor relationships
  • Strengthening understanding of business and social models for the effective implementation of small wind technology
  • Managing projects, offering consultancy services and developing/distributing products in line with the association’s guiding principles

Activities

Wind Empowerment acts as both a central knowledge bank and a facilitator of direct connections between its members (currently 39 organisations).

Conference

The Wind Empowerment conferences, which take place every 2 years, have been key in building and maintaining the relationships between individuals and organisations that form the basis of the network. Despite the staggering array of digital technologies available and used across the network, it has become clear  that face-to-face follow up meetings are essential to allow members to discuss their experiences in person, share practical skills and build trust and partnerships.

The most recent conference took place in Kayathar and Chennai, India from 1 - 14 December 2018. Many photos and videos of the activities have been published on Wind Empowerment's Facebook page. Detailed Review: Wind Empowerment's 2018 Conference In Chennai, India.

The previous conference took place from in November 2016 at two different venues in the Patagonian region of Argentina. A comprehensive conference documentation is available here:WEPatagonia2016.

Online Platform
The webpage of Wind Empowerment is a rich source of information and serves as an exchange platform for the members, as well as for other people interested in the network and the technology. It covers not only recent news and event information, but also contains a library of documents and articles on wind technology, research background, broadcasts and the latest information on working groups. In addition, lively dialogue takes place in the discussion forums and the webinars offer background information on relevant current topics.

Working Groups
The Working Groups (WGs) have been set up to actively address the key barriers facing the development of small wind technology for rural development. The six WGs are:

In 2016 all six working groups started to develop so-called kick-starter projects to ensure a more intensive form of collaboration within clearly targeted projects or studies.

Upcoming Events

Currently, there are no upcoming events.

Coordination & Support

The Wind Empowerment network is a Charitable Incorporated Organisation and is supported by several organisations, one of which is the WISIONS initiative.

The coordinating person is Jessica Rivas.

The regional partnership WindWorks, which aimed for the promotion of small-scale wind turbines in Latin America, merged with Wind Empowerment in 2014. WindWorks was initiated and supported by WISIONS, in close cooperation with Green Empowerment from 2011 - 2014.