Small-scale wind power

Clean, renewable and sustainable energy

Families living in rural areas who do not have access to the national grid may have to travel long distances and wait long times for their batteries to be recharged at commercial centres.

Practical Action has developed reliable and cost effective wind energy systems for charging batteries to help meet the electrical energy needs of these people. Small scale wind energy generators also have the potential to stimulate village-level charging enterprises for either community or private use. Therefore Practical Action aims to develop and promote local industries capable of manufacturing and maintaining the generators.

Converting wind energy into electricity is clean, renewable and sustainable - the wind supply will never run out!

Wind energy has been used for pumping water and milling grain for hundreds of years.  More recently, wind energy has also been used for electricity generation. Developing countries can take advantage of wind power on a small scale, both for irrigation (wind pumps) and for generation of electricity (wind generators).

Small wind turbine systems, with a capacity ranging from 50 W to 10 kW and rotor diameter ranging from about 0.5 m to 7 m, are primarily used in battery charging.

The batteries can then be used for energy supply for houses, hospitals, farms, telecommunication, navigation, etc. Wind energy systems can also operate in parallel with diesel sets or solar PV systems.

More than 70 percent of people in Sri Lanka live in poor rural areas, far beyond the reach of the national grid and often miles from the nearest kerosene seller. People face untold hardship every day - and even lethal danger - simply because they cannot get the safe, clean, renewable energy they need.

For Weerasinghe, being without power was much more than an inconvenience. It is a major source of poverty, preventing him from working, stopping his children learning, and forcing him to use up precious natural resources - as well as precious hours that could be spent improving his life instead.

Before he started working with Practical Action, Weerasinghe had no choice but to use energy sources that were either dangerous or hugely expensive in order to get the basic light and heat he needed. The kerosene lamps he used for light were so notorious for causing injuries, especially to children playing or doing their homework (kerosene burns are a major cause of children being admitted to hospital in Sri Lanka). And the old car battery he relied on for a little electricity cost more than eight dollars a month to recharge - a real fortune when money is so scarce.

Weerasinghe now generates light from his own small wind turbine system. Living in Usgala village in the south of Sri Lanka, Weerasinghe's life is hard indeed. Surviving on subsistence farming, he grows just enough to feed his family with little to spare.

"It was wonderful! Straight away there was enough power to light a few light bulbs, so I could work and the children could do their homework. I could charge up my own battery, and earn a little money by charging up those of my friends and neighbours too."

Over the months, the pilot turbine project surpassed all expectations, generating power when there was wind, and storing it for calmer days. Simple - and self-sufficient too. Villagers are trained to do all the installation and maintenance work themselves, and the turbine parts are made by local people, from local materials.

Sharing light and warmth at school

The installation of a hybrid solar and wind energy system has transformed the lives of this community in the Cajamarca district of Peru. No sooner had the truck stopped opposite the Morowisha Primary school in the Porcón Alto settlement than a group of children jumped out.  Wit...

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Energy is a powerful solution to poverty and the use of energy technologies will help millions of people escape destitution. Renewable energy is even better. Simple and easy schemes can – and already do – give people a way out of poverty forever. However, we cannot change people’s lives without your help. Please, if you can, make a donation or your could Make Your Point...

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Web pages

  • Case study: Wind power in Nikeweritiya, Sri Lanka
  • Small Wind Energy Systems - Practical Action Energy Research Findings
  • The demonstration wind turbine at Practical Action's UK office

Our technical information service, Practical Answers, has a wide range of practical guides related to Wind Power

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