Renewable World and Global Wind Day: a little wind power goes a long way

May 28, 2013
One kilowatt may not seem like a lot – a small fan heater can use this much energy in an hour to warm your feet in a chilly British office. But in a remote community in Tanzania, this relatively small amount of energy has huge potential to transform people’s lives.
Renewable World’s Global Wind Day action focuses generating support for our wind-solar hybrid project in Tanzania. In the run up to the 15th June, you can give directly (in pounds or euros) to our East Africa Programme and Songambele to power itself out of poverty.
Together with our local partner ALIN and Tanzanian wind power firm Wind Power Serengeti, Renewable World has established a wind-solar hybrid system which powers a ‘Maarifa’ or Information Centre.  In addition to solar panels, a 1kW wind turbine has been installed to power the Centre, to provide additional power for uses such as access to modern ICT services. The 12 m-tall horizontal axis turbine is locally produced and is designed operate at low wind speeds. It produces an average of 3kWh of energy per day.
Engineer Arthur Karomba, from Wind Power Serengeti, installed the system’s wind turbine: ‘All that was needed here was a turbine. This part of Tanzania is excellent for wind power. It is also good for solar power, and we were able to combine the two. We have a battery, to which the turbine is connected, and between the wind and solar power there is enough for the Centre, and to be stored for use across the community.’
The choice of appropriate technology to solve the energy problems in this vulnerable community is providing a sustainable solution which is sensitive to the need to reduce environmental impacts. Local skills are used in the maintenance and management of the turbine, building on knowledge and experience which already exists. These skills will be passed on through the community, and from generation to generation.
Mr Karomba said: ‘Because of its rotating blades, the turbine needs to be taken down once every six months for maintenance. It’s guaranteed for a year, but we are also training people to make and build turbines.”
The system is economically viable in the long-term for the community, and is resulting in an improvement in education and training, regular employment and income for families. This is particularly important for Songambele’s 21,000 inhabitants who are being affected by climate change; crops are increasingly difficult to grow, resulting in adults and children alike working longer hours for lower wages. However, the new wind turbine is also being used to improve crop yields directly by pumping water for irrigation. This enables children to spend more time at school and provides both time and opportunities for adults to expand their skill-sets.
The Maarifa Centre provides ICT training and information about the latest crop-growing methods. Other activities and opportunities include a barber-shop, phone charging and a shop selling agricultural equipment.
Renewable World hopes that while the turbine quietly transforms people’s lives in Songambele, the community will noisily promote its effects.