Small Scale Wind Energy – A call for papers

Via Afriwea

Picture 1.png

An International Workshop on Small Scale wind energy For Developing Countries will be held
September 14-16, 2009, Nairobi, Kenya
The workshop will cover the following main themes:

Wind energy technologies, their perspectives and applications in developing countries,

Reliability of wind turbines, lifetime and strength of wind turbine components,

Low cost and natural materials for wind turbines,

Case studies, social and economic aspects of wind energy in developing countries.

Abstract Submission

Please submit a two-page abstract (700-800 words, in MS Word format) by e-mail to haqi [at] risoe[dot]dtu[dot]dk no later than March 15, 2008. Authors will be notified of the Committee’s
decisions shortly thereafter.


All participants are requested to register before March 20, 2009. The registration fee is 200 EURO
for participants from developed countries, and 1200 Kenyan shillings for the participants from
developing countries
. After March 21, 2009, the registration fee increases to 350 EURO (developed
countries) and 3000 Kenyan shillings (developing countries), respectively. The payment of the
registration fee should be made either by credit card (Euro, Master or Visa), or by bank transfer.
Finally, after June 15, 2009, we take additionally late-registration fee of 70 EURO and 1000
shillings, for developed and developing countries respectively. The registration includes the access
to the sessions, coffee/refreshment and lunch/dinner.

Download the Workshop2009.pdf here.

PS: please stop laughing at the logo. My explanation, a lion was standing near a wind turbine, it farted a lightbulb or had a brilliant idea.

Contribute to a book on Wind Energy…

/> *Image by Warren Rohner
From AfriWea

There is an opportunity for African authors in the RE field to contribute to the World Wind Energy Association yearbook:2009/2010

WWEA is accepting contributions from the African continent, with a goal of creating comprehensive country reports and project examples of wind energy.

The yearbook will include special reports in the following areas:
1. Policies
2. Community Power Approaches and Social Acceptance
3. Industrial Trends
4. Financing
5. Grid Connected Systems and Wind Farms Onshore and Offshore
6. Integrating Renewable Energies
7. Small Scale Wind and Hybrid Systems
8. Wind Assessment and Prediction
9. Education and Training
10. Research and Development of Technology.

Dates, Deadlines and Information
– Final abstract deadline: 11 December 2008
– Final paper deadline: 15 January 2009
– Abstract and paper format: Word-Format (unformatted)
– Final paper maximum size: Five pages A 4

Please send your abstract, further requests and the paper to:
WWEA Head Office, Frank Rehmet, Chief Editor
Tel. +49-228-369 40 80 Fax: +49-228-369 40 84
E-Mail: fr [at] wwindea [dot] org

Opportunities for Physics students interested in RE (Renewable Energy) – Africa

Please see the info below, you can send an email to Spelly DOT Ramoshaba AT za DOT fujitsu DOT com

I am looking for Physics students who are interested in Masters and PhD
studies in the field of renewable energy technologies, ICT and/or material
science (building materials).
I have lucrative bursaries for the students of
up to R100 000pa for Masters and R150 000pa for PhD for the period of 2
years at masters and 3 years at PhD. The bursary will increase annually
based on certain deliverables from the student. There is also an opportunity
for them to do contract work for Eskom with us and top up their annual
bursaries to above R250 000 for PhD and above R150 000 for Masters. I am
trying to get some people from previously disadvantaged groups but I do not
know anyone there, so if you know someone who might benefit from this
lucrative offers, even if its not someone from previously disadvantaged
groups, give them my contact details below.

This is a very urgent call because the money is lying somewhere and we need
to provide proof of students registration to get it to our account.

I will appreciate your assistance.
Sampson Mamphweli
Researcher (Renewable Energy)
Fort Hare Institute of Technology
Tel: +2740 602 2311
Fax: +27866659221
Mobile: +27822140367

Usual disclaimer: I am just passing the information along, please do your own due diligence when contacting the person.

Update: The Acumen fund fellowship program is accepting applications, the deadline for that is October 20th 2008. For more info, click here.

Africa RE News Roundup

Its been a minute since i did one of these, well here goes:
There is lots happening in the Renewable energy (RE) field in Africa. From various sources, here are a few hits that have crossed my virtual desk.
From AfriWea,
Can you set up a 120MW wind power plant? If so, the Ethiopian Electric Power Corporation (EEPC) wants you. Interested companies can submit their proposals before Feb. 4th 2008. Please see attached PDF for the information.

An exhaustive article about wind power in South Africa, click on this cool graphic.


What is becoming more and more apparent is that there is a unique opportunity for the growth of a serious renewable-energy industry in South Africa, given growing security of demand and a desire to reduce the countryâ??s carbon footprint. But what is also plain is that unless government and Eskom take an active role in its promotion, the full potential for renewables will not be realised.

From Business Daily Africa:
Wind Energy driving Rural Growth
The article also includes a picture of Simon Mwacharo, the owner of craftskills, TEDster, and friend of the blog.

Simon Mwacharo knows one or two things about moving under the feet of the big boys and girls to be the first on the cash till. While KenGen is scheming in the boardroom on how to meet the rising demand for electricity, Mwacharo is on the ground, providing hundreds of homes with electricity generated from the wind.

June this year, i used the pun ’emPowering’ in this post, glad to know that i am not the only corny one: From Off-Grid. net comes a neat post ’emPowering Africa’
Alternative Energy African

Mozambique University has launched a local program to encourage renewable energy self sufficiency that may become a model across the continent.

From Newscientist: Solar water purifier distributed by Rotary international.
water purifier

The solar water purifier collects heat from sunlight and uses it to evaporate unpurified water running through the panel. The vapour collects inside the glass forming the panel’s surface and is collected – leaving behind most impurities

hat tip Emeka
Update: Cant believe i almost forgot about this video. William Kamkwamba was featured on WSJ!

end of brief roundup.

Solar Accessories:
Here is a link to a not so flattering post about the solar charger Solio (take it with a grain of salt) I haven’t tried Solio, but mysoldius worked really well for me.

So i finally bought a voltaic backpack. I was worried about traveling with it, especially when going through airport security. The screeners were fascinated about it, asking lots of questions. Joel Johnson of BoingBoing gadgets had mentioned that he had no problems traveling with it – My experience was the same. No issues at all, actually its a great conversation starter.
Initial envy from the geeks at my friend’s office in Kenya – Very High!

Wind Energy Resources & RE News Tidbits

Via Leonardo Energy,
The Wind Turbine buyers guide [PDF]: “The article discusses small wind system components, wind turbine basics, and understanding the ratings. It also shows photos of the small wind turbines and lists several specifications for each.”

Via AfriWea
GVEP International receives a 2 million pound grant for a project in East Africa. GVEP’s role is, according to their site

… providing financial support, capacity building and technical assistance to energy SMEs in developing countries. Using funding from the Russian Government, GVEP intends to set up two Regional Funds in West and East Africa to build local energy supply chains and grow economic development from the bottom up.

The list of other organizations in Africa receiving grants from Europe aid can be found here. [PDF]. Some of the organizations in Kenya on the list include:
Kenya Arid Land Development Focus – Renewable energy in Wajir
Kenya Tana and Athi rivers Development Authority – Community based mini hydropower development in upper tana river basin
Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ) – Up scaling the smaller biogas Plants

“The Greek Orthodox Church in Cyprus has announced plans to invest $234m (£115m) in solar energy. Archbishop Chrysostomos II said the church would build a factory that would make photo-voltaic panels to capture the sun’s energy.” – Now that is a faith based initiative i could get behind.

Fun from The Daily show with Jon Stewart: An awesome lampoon of the Cape Wind project in Nantucket. Big wigs don’t want it because it will presumably ruin their long range view from their mansions.

Clean Drinking Water Pumped by Wind Energy!

This installation in Chifiri, in North Eastern province Kenya is an example of how wind and solar installations can be used to provide the needs of marginalized communities in arid and semi-arid areas.
Chifiri Wind Turbine
Simon Mwacharo, TEDGlobal speaker and renewable energy innovator has written about it in wonderful detail and provided pictures. Read more about it here.

The turbine also provides some power to the nearby manyattas (traditional samburu huts), Simon noticed a Japanese guy camped out near the turbine. That was the only place he could charge his laptop and phone!

Do note that next week, the TEDGlobal talks will premiere on Subscribe in itunes by searching for tedtalks and also check the TED blog for a series of posts from bloggers who attended the conference. A piece i wrote is is alread posted on the TED blog, Like Emily said ‘This is the bloggers story to tell’, because there wasn’t as much coverage of it in the mainstream news. I hope you enjoy the talks.

Wireless in Laisamis – Remote Cell Phone Base Stations by WinAfrique

Cross posted on Afrigadget

Coolest picture of the month! (IMO)
Safaricom in Laisamis uses wind powered cell phone stations.

Photo courtesy of Bergey. Oct 26 2006 Dedication of the cell phone base station site in Laisamis, Kenya Africa.
The company WinAfrique designs and builds hybrid wind and diesel turbine systems for powering cell phone base stations, and it also offers solar solutions for off grid power generation. Kenya’s biggest wireless companies Safaricom and Celtel have contracted with WinAfrique.

In 2005 Safaricom contracted with Winafrique Technologies in Nairobi to design and supply pilot wind/diesel hybrid systems at three very remote base stations. The systems consisted of a Bergey 7.5 kW turbine on a 24 m (80 ft) SSV tower, sealed batteries, and an inverter. These sites were installed and monitored for one year. The results showed excellent reliability and diesel fuel savings of 70-95%. Based on these positive results, Safaricom has contracted for six more sites, and has many other wind/diesel sites in the planning stage.

Where is Laisamis? click here for a google earth placemark.

Be sure to check out Russell Southwood’s modest proposition – Africa: Power to the Base Stations. In it he presents the opportunity for an independent power producer to supply the energy needs of telecoms, energy hogging hotels and he did not mention this…but i am sure African telecentres of the future. Hat Tip Bankelele.

Bottom Up Vs Top Down, a lesson in Solar Implementation from Senegal.

In the post on Electranets, the idea of top down development, something synonymous with the Hippos (including the misguided hippo cheerleaders at Economist ;)) clashes with the idea of bottom -up development. For an example of just how these top-down initiatives can go awry, lets go to Senegal.

Thanks Emeka for the story.
This piece from IRIN news is instructive, especially since its a solar energy project. It describes an ambitious rural electrification project that was funded by the Japanese and Spanish governments in the form of grants and loans to the Senegalese government to set up Photo voltaic systems for a rural area far from the electricity grid.

Hut and Solar panel

The project had good intentions it appears, what with the powerful image of a hut with a solar panel on its roof. As reported on the article, the project is devolving into an unsustainable mess, with only 30% of the people paying the fees for the photovoltaic systems, and ongoing maintenance problems due to lack of money to change the batteries and keep the parts working properly. The article then goes on to describe other problems such as the high cost of fees for the PV systems. The contractors hired by the Senegalese government left in 2005 after their contract ended and the new contractor has 1 technician to service 10,000 home systems. 1. It becomes clear quite quickly that the development model that this project was based on was flawed. Not the technology behind it. I think that the project did not fully involve the community, these guys came in, ‘saved’ the village by installing the PV systems, but they did not think it through. Is the community involved in the maintenance? Nope.

The sad part is that the Senegalese government did not steer the project in a sustainable direction. There can be a partnership between governments that result in great projects (rural electrification using solar is still a superb idea), but the local government on the receiving end of the aid needs to tailor the aid to meet the needs of its people. Take the bottom up approach of training and equipping the community with the skills and this IMO is the most important part. It needs to be a market driven approach. Why would would anyone take ownership of maintaining a system if there wasn’t something in it for them? Rural development could use a few Gordon Gekko’s no? He’d probably shriek at stepping on cow dung and ruining his Johnston and murphy shoes…I am kidding! (filmmakers out there feel free to make a movie about him going to rural Africa to do his ‘greed is good’ speech. I know I would watch that, just invite me to the premiere) That aside, the idea of capitalism needs to be injected into a lot the development models if they are to be sustainable.

So how could this project have been done better? There are great models to follow. The first one that comes to the fore is the Barefoot College in India. Senegal and other countries in Africa can look at other developing countries such as India for models on how to use renewable energy in a viable manner.

The IRIN article points to the unnecessary perception that solar energy is not a viable solution for rural electrification, and that the ‘Donors are watching closely’

Individual and communal solar systems have brought electricity to over 170,000 people in Sine Saloum which lies south of Dakar near the border with The Gambia. The project is the largest of its kind in Senegal and experts say donors are watching it closely to gauge whether solar energy could be a practical means of electrifying other rural areas.

The point that the donors might be missing is, there is a red herring to watch out for. Simon Mwacharo pointed out at TED that solar and wind power systems got a bad rap in the past because the systems were not set up correctly. It appears from the situation in Senegal, that the follow-up plan to maintain the project was severely lacking. Confusing implementation and project model problems with the effectiveness of solar technology in providing power would be a mistake. A detailed article from refocus magazine, showing the obstacles and success conditions in developing countries is helpful in summarizing some of the issues in renewable energy. Projects such as the one in Senegal do require a different type of strategy.

So what practical things can we learn from all this?

From a consumer perspective, if you are out there looking for a solar powered solution for your energy needs, don’t skimp. i came across some good tips in Wired Mag January issue. Specifically

Choose the right system. Want a house that produces all of its own electricity? Opt for monocrystalline or polycrystalline panels. They’re the most efficient â?? and the most expensive. Amorphous photovoltaics are roughly half the price but only about half as efficient. If you can’t bear the appearance of those big black roof slabs, go with building-integrated photovoltaics (BIPV). Your normal-looking roof and windows become solar catchers.

From a larger country-type perspective, again,

  • Don’t skimp on setting up a good quality system.
  • Include a bottom-up strategy of involving entrepreneurs and invest in training for the people who will manage the systems.

In the Refocus magazine June Issue, there is a great interview by David Hopwood. In it he interviews Christoph Paradeis and Andrea Ocker of Solar Fabrik, they were discussing the future of solar as a viable market driven technology. In this bit they were talking about SA and its embracing of wind power. Specifically relating to this post (and the dont skimp bit)…

reFOCUS: South Africa appears to be on the verge of embracing windpower at least…

CP: They also started with solar in 2001, just after I joined the organization, but this project failed. They installed solar systems of course but the quality of them was so poor that many failed after two to three years. One of the requirements was that the systems be really cheap, but this caused problems with reliability. Yes, some of those regions are poor, but they should invest in good systems so that they don’t have to change them after several years; this is a false economy.

AO: And besides, people don’t trust the technology any longer if they first experience poor quality.

This post is getting too long so i shall stop here. Thank you for reading this far. How about we go listen to some Ghanaian highlife music over at Museke, or listen to Vusi Mahlasela, Habib Koite and Dobet Gnahore on Afropop?

Africa Renewable Energy News Roundup

Ethan had a great post A new wind blowing in Africa where he writes about William Kamkwamba and Simon Mwacharo.

The wind continues to blow…

From Refocus – International Renewable Energy Magazine (Print version),

South Africa’s first commercial wind farm is being built in Darling, near Cape Town. It will have capacity of 5.2 MW, and slated to supply Cape Town. A partnership between SA government’s Central Energy Fund, Development Bank of SA, Darling Independent Power Producer and the Danish Development Agency (DANCED).

And now for a different kind of wind
From Timbuktu Chronicles

The pioneering work of Olatubosun Adeleke (Obayomi) in Nigeria, in creating a household scale biogas production system, which you can read about and see great pictures here.

Simon Mwacharo Renewable Energy Entrepreneur – Video


Simon Mwacharo and William Kamkwamba – Renewable Energy Innovators.

Here is the video i did with Simon Mwacharo, the founder of Craftskills, a wind and solar company based in Kenya. This was recorded after his TED talk which you can find a great summary of at LHKB Ethanâ??s and my post on his talk can be found here.

**I am a total noob on this one, please pardon the frequent uh huhâ??s vigorous head nodding and leading questionsâ?¦I said it was a conversation right? Right. I promise that the next video I make will definitely be better; I am getting started on Pixel Corps to get me on the road to better digital media work.(Thanks Alex Lindsay). Ok, without further adoâ?¦

Please click here to download the video

Update1: Mr. Mwacharo commented on the post

We are situated in Kibera slums Nairobi and are looking for a chance to give Africa her pride. Funds will come in handy to place us on an industrial scenario where we can produce these turbines at a lower cost and benefit wananchi.

Check out his company here.

Meeting these two gentlemen pictured above at TED was indeed an honour. I am not the only one who was impressed…Nii Simmonds has a post on William Kamkwamba, “I see I make”.

Update 2: Via Hash, William Kamkwamba has a blog, do visit him here.