By Jon Leary, Wind Empowerment Coordinator
Back in September, I spent a week in Glasgow at the University of Strathclyde working on the Global Market Assessment for Small Wind Turbines with Aran Eales, Alfie Alsop and Jon Persson. Funded by the WISIONS Initiative of the Wuppertal Institute through Wind Empowerment’s Kickstarter Programme, this is an enabling study that will pinpoint exactly where in the world the association should focus its future efforts in order to achieve maximum impact.
From the broad geographical experience of our members, we know that small wind does not work everywhere. In fact, most countries simply aren’t windy enough to justify the establishment of small wind manufacturing operations. This study breaks down the contextual factors that we know from our experience have influenced the viability of SWTs in any particular place (frequency of lightning strikes, complementarity with solar resource, enabling policies etc.) and evaluates them on a national level to locate key regions where small wind can offer a scalable solution to rural electrification.
We have known for a long time that SWTs are a niche technology, but locating exactly where that niche could fit has not been done before. The key output of this study will be a priorities list of countries where Wind Empowerment wants to focus its activities in the future in order to make the greatest contribution to poverty alleviation. Stay tuned for the results of the study, which will be unveiled in November at our third global conference, WEPatagonia2016.
A big thank you to Aran and Alfie of Strathclyde University’s Energy for Development Group and Wind Energy Doctoral Training Centre who hosted us for this week and Jon Persson who travelled from Sweden to participate. In fact. we recently received the excellent news that Alfie will be Wind Empowerment’s first official PhD student! Alfie will now begin a 3 year PhD research project taking forward the ideas in this Kickstarter Project and developing a much more robust methodology for finding out exactly where in the world small wind fits. He will be joining us at WEPatagonia2016, where you will all have the opportunity to have your say on how he refines the very rough and ready methodology we have used here to reflect your experience with what works and what hasn’t in the small wind projects you’ve been part of.