Throwback at WEFrance 2022

This page gives a summary of the activities that occured during WEFrance2022. This page structure is the following and includes few selected pictures of the exciting activities that occured.

  • First week-end in La Maladière
  • Scientific Workshop at Ampère Laboratory
  • Practical Workshops at Chateau Pergaud
  • Maintenance day in the mountains
  • Association focused discussions

Shout out to Aurélie for the great After Movie !

1st week-end at La Maladière

Working on the anemometer for the farm

La maladiere farm is a wonderful place !

Saturday 8th and Sunday 9th took place at la Ferme de la Maladière, a collective living place where agricultural activities mix with cultural projects, hosting and is also the working place of l’Atelier du Zéphyr, member of the french group Tripalium. 

On Saturday 8th, we met there, took some time to catch up with each other and had a great hard rock stove pizza party on Saturday evening ! We all slept at the farm.

On Sunday 9th, we carried out different technical activities such as: testing of an anemometer, getting down the wind turbine, and working on the control panel of the wind turbine.

Workshop at Ampère Laboratory

Presentations permitted to hear of the research advanced that during the two year period.

Test bench to carry live test on active rectification for SWT

On Monday the 10th, a day-workshop was organized by Ampère Laboratory. This scientific and wind enthusiast gathering aimed at raising Small Wind Turbines (SWT) issues from the field to the scientific community, highlight scientific works applicable to the field and finally make connections within the SWT community. The whole program can be found here : https://wefrance22.sciencesconf.org/

Practical workshops at Chateau Pergaud

Practical workshop on how to design a low tech SWT

Ferrite machine assembly

Still buzzing from the day at Lyon University,  we toured the Chateaux grounds and inspected the 18m tall turbine installed on site, in preparation for maintenance checks. We also got started on building a generator using Ferrite Magnets, an exciting project by Pure Self Made’s Jonothan Schrieber. Work began on the construction of blades and the rolling of copper wires,

Maintenance day in the mountains

Teamwork makes it perfect !

Maintenance activities in the Vercors mountains

On Thursday the 13th, we went to Auberge de Combeau. We carried out the maintenance of a 10 years old machine.

Association focused discussions

Introductions from the board were made, and each member of the Executive Board (EB) shared the work they have been engaged with over the previous 2 years. This included the Coordinator, the Treasurer, Secretary, the Working Group (WG) coordinator, Communications and the two Scientific Advisors. Those of the WG that were present gave an insight into the work that they have been doing, this included technology and education. One of the EB and some of the WG members were not present, but will be invited to the online AGM in November.

Following introductions, there was an overview of the strategy, vision and projects that the EB identified, with a particular focus on the 5 pillars that were identified as key areas of focus for the network and EB.

The EB outlined the 5 pillars of focus and the strategic mind map which prefaced group work to ensure relevant focus. The 5 Pillars are (1) WE Membership, (2) Appropriate technology, (3) Productive uses of energy, (4) Knowledge exchange, and (5) Networking.

The EB then shared the rural outreach projects that were identified, including a project design for refugee camps in Lesbos, and a project in Ethiopia. Both utilising existing networks and experience. 

We then discussed the Tanzania water pumping project and the feasibility study which resulted in an overview of how to serve three villages in the Serengeti with a hybrid project facilitating water pumping, reforestation and productive uses. There is motivation to continue with this project perhaps bringing in other partners.

These projects were all examples of how the EB wanted to use our experience and knowledge that has been developed over the duration of WE. Members of the EB shared work that was done on the SEPS project, funded by our historic partner Wisions. There were horticultural projects and agricultural projects in India and Argentina, with the project exchanging knowledge in India and Argentina, open source projects and water pumping, respectively. We now have a prototype that is being rolled out in Argentina as a result.

The EB outlined the importance of documenting this work more broadly. Naturally, there were significant challenges SEPS faced due to the pandemic, making travel and so on very challenging. We were potentially too ambitious considering the funding scope, but it was a very interesting knowledge exchange and a good example of what can emerge from a working group.

There was a discussion on the possibility of working with Wind Aid and having members support the development of content, their educational model and the opportunity for members to participate in their education programs.

Finally, the EB discussed how the conference planning has operated, with the original intention of hosting in Tanzania. Appreciation was shown for the wonderful hosting in Chateau Pergot.

The EB then shared our approaches to funding applications and existing projects that can be continued, and we began the activity of exploring a series of questions identified by the members that pertain to the future success of WE.

We broke areas of focus into 4 questions/subject areas, and groups were invited to join each discussion group, rotating to ensure their views on each were explored. The below is a summary of those discussions

Question 1 - What can WE do in the next 2 years (expectations)

4 groups with many ideas, firstly there was a conclusion to work more in West Africa, which could be with one large project or multiple smaller projects, it could also culminate in the 2024 conference. Ideas included Benin, where farming schools and energy training could be done.

There was also thinking around the focus of education, and how WE can work together on applications. There was also encouragement around work in East Africa, namely the Tanzanian project earlier outlined. 

Group two wanted more data and knowledge, installing data loggers etc. and sharing info beyond wind turbines (thermal, solar etc.).

There was discussion around wiki build up and exploring the productive uses available with SWT technology.

This group revisited the idea of regional conferences and working with the likes of engineers without borders, as well as coming together to finish the book and have a greater focus on ferrite magnets.

The third group sought more resilience, WE being a catalyst for further projects either through funding or knowledge exchange, areas of focus being ferrite magnets, data logger and electric combinations.

Open source systems and WE dynamising  member projects, increasing the maintenance elements of the network, and being a source of funding for members, supporting them with new business.

Group 4 wanted more communication with each member incorporating tools into their works, this could be Discord or the website, but essentially WE using tools more frequently. They also cited increased accessibility for global South members.

An important idea was arranging a sailing boat to next conference!

Question 2 - What are the main goals of the organisation (what should we do internally and externally)?

Notes amongst the groups was recorded as on. The feedback was firstly, we should make our work visible! This also includes being referenced on other sites / pages. Ensure all of the organisations and experts across the world are made more visible, and promote the use of our tools, enabling others to know what we are doing, and to support those seeking SWT practitioners being able to join in and engage as they would like.

The organisation should be maximally aware of member focus areas, needs and ideas. Making exchange more fluid, such as on Discord was put forward as a priority. Collective projects around educational tools, new design plans, collective buying and having a list of suppliers, open source electronic design and full documentation of work was outlined. Having a target of 2 countries to develop projects in, this could include: Tanzania, USA, Benin, Ivory Coast, Haiti or others.

Fluidity of exchange might be the global wind map, or marketing (use of social media), also linking academia potentially. Fundamentally, linking the global community, creating data together, and then being able to share it more widely.

We also discussed networking, such as the biannual conference, regular online meetings that are could take place more frequently than the traditional conference timeline. This might be local (regional) meetings or it could be thematic potentially linked to the WGs. Also linking with other organisations supporting them with facilitation, for example in local regions. Ensuring we are building powerful and resilient networks.

3 rural electrification projects were put forward as a target, across the network. It was made clear that local partners on the ground were imperative, and building their strength and sustainability central to success.

Linked to this was having effective needs assessment / understanding of situation in local contexts.

A WOOFing platform was put forward, so that those who want to engage on sustainability projects can find available projects. Perhaps this could include doing a bicycle tour across different regions. Ultimately, linking the academic community with practitioners, willing or actual! This was linked closely to pillar 2 and 3, Appropriate technologies, and productive uses respectively.

The idea of being a resource centre for each member and the outside world was also explored, facilitating more fluent exchanges between members, building a hub where members can rely on one another around technology questions, or generally sharing knowledge, ensuring we are all sharing work that has been done. Potentially this collated database could act as a support to fundraising.

Once these internal functions are operational we can then present externally to help those interested. Connect needs and abilities and from this perspective, WE should support in the documentation process so that projects can be unified in a sense

Finding others who are already doing SWT work around the world, but are not connected to the network was identified as important.

With a collective approach, it was asked whether there could be a collective buying list, utilising economies of scale?

Also, open source electronic design, which could lead to further projects initiated due to momentum being generated. 

Finally, running projects was explored, and whether we should we run projects or support those who have shown interest was examined. Basically, should we be travelling and engaging with communities or wait for them to approach us?

When talking about rural electrification it must start from the needs. WE lore was shared,

“There is a rule in WE, the network never competes with its members”, as this can lead to conflict of interest between, WE and individual members – it is important not to prevent local organisations from carrying out their work. It is paramount that first off, WE serve members’ interests. 

Should WE offer resources, or be the driving force behind projects with WE being a resource of support, a live partner that is remotely helping and providing reassurance.

There are roughly 3 categories of projects

 

  • Partner in the country that WE can direct parties to. WE can offer strategic support here in addition

  • There is no partner in country and WE member goes there and gets support from network

  • No one is there, someone gets in touch with WE and asks their support, and WE coordinates – essential to have local partners/interested parties

Importantly it was emphasised that the conviviality of the network and biannual (every two years) meetings was a crucial function and supported members in keeping account of work being done. It was put forward again the idea or having more regular online meetings perhaps biannual (twice a year).

Question 3 - Fundraising

Find stronger partners for applications, such as Electrification Without Borders or those who are working in the field, and do applications on mixed technology not just wind, harnessing the knowledge in the network.

WE should partner more closely to NGOs who are working in community development, those with funding and interest on the ground. WE could include bringing researchers to the field, bring volunteers/students/PhDs etc 

It was suggested that WE engage with businesses and private sector companies, some organisations have a 1% for the planet program for example.

Working with academic institutions to get more support from their stakeholders, this could include volunteer programs and providing placements in different WE member projects as above.

Fun events such as a WE festival, creating joy in our fundraising projects! Tech and play.

Catalyst funds with a view to enterprise using our tried and tested tech.

Merchandising? Increasing funds and also visibility, this could be tee shirts, or a WE calendar?

EU or regional funds, social innovation funds that local partners might be aware of, and indeed new funds, we are seeking more expertise here

Open prototype fund software and hardware, there are funds for this 

Connect with local micro finance orgs – MeteoFrance(?) for data logger

Voluntary quotas, members do not contribute to the network, some may hae the means to make a contribution which might have benefits such as merchandise. This could pertain to size of organization

WindEmpowerment Endowment?

Finally looking for small funding opportunities, having a shared excel (or equivalent) possibly on the Wiki? Therefore identifying relevant funding applications and having a regional focus on this for effectiveness.

Ask academic members to include WE on applications 

WE festival with conferences and shows etc. which would benefit partners – historically water pumping for example. We might be able to locate partners who could support here, thinking about festivals with sustainability focus, including with local members

 

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