IEEE Electrification Magazine - March 2015 - 69

OW-COST RENEWABLE ENERGY TECHNOLogies can make small-scale electricity
production more accessible to rural communities. The local manufacturing of such technologies can significantly reduce the initial
costs with the use of locally available materials, tools, and
manufacturing techniques, and, at the same time, it can
reduce maintenance costs by providing appropriate training
to the user community. Open designs, which can be adopted
to local needs and supported by a global technology network,
have provided successful examples of appropriate technology applications for the past 40 years, such as small and pico
hydroelectric rural electrification systems in Nepal and
renewable energy training centers in Mali.
A widespread technology with
such characteristics is the locally
manufactured small wind turbine.
Designs of do-it-yourself (DIY) small
wind turbines date back to the early
1970s, as in the November 1972 issue
of Popular Science magazine with an
article by Hans Meyer, from the
Windworks cooperative in Wisconsin,
on how to construct a downwind
small wind turbine for electricity production (Figure 1). This technological
approach was embraced by the backto-the-land movement of the late
1970s in the United States and
Europe and was developed further.
One of the first applications of
locally manufactured small wind
turbines in developing countries for
rural electrification was initiated by the Intermediate
Technology Development Group, now called Practical
Action. In 2000, this group collaborated with Hugh Piggott
of Scoraig Wind Electric, who had more than 20 years of
hands-on experience, at the time, in harnessing electricity from the wind and had implemented many locally
built designs in the off-grid rural community of Scoraig in
Scotland. He was contracted to prepare a design manual,

L

structing and designing axial flux small wind turbines
were published. One was by Piggott, the Wind Turbine Recipe Book: The Axial Flux Windmill Plans, which described
the process of constructing and designing small wind turbines of rotor diameters from 1.2 m up to 4.2 m, and the
other was by Dan Bartmann and Dan Fink of Otherpower,
Homebrew Wind Power, which described a similar construction and design process along with some modifications for more demanding environments.
Since then, these design manuals have been a reference
guide for locally manufactured small wind turbines and
have proven to be valuable tools in spreading this knowledge. Rural electrification has been an obvious application of
this technology; many nongovernmental organizations
(NGOs) and groups have used these
design manuals and locally constructed small community wind turbines in
developing countries, while construction seminars for DIY enthusiasts
have been organized by several groups
around the world. Since 2012, the
Wind Empowerment Association has
managed to network most of the organizations involved with locally manufactured small wind turbines in the
world, aiming at building the financial
and human resources needed for the
activities of these organizations and at
performing joint technical research
while sharing technical information.
The second Wind Empowerment
conference held in Athens, Greece, in
November 2014, is the latest achievement of the network, with more than 40 participants from
all continents exchanging experiences from the field while
organizing working groups to tackle issues surrounding
locally manufactured wind turbines under the themes of
technology, market assessment, delivery models, maintenance, education, and measurement.
It has been estimated that more than 1,000 locally
manufactured small wind turbines have been constructed
based on Piggott's design, and currently many of them are
in operation around the world (Figure 2).

Open-source
technologies are
developed by
communities of
designers and users,
with the distinction
between the two
often being
nonexistent.

The Permanent Magnet Generator: A Manual for Manufacturers and Developers, which was aimed at the local production of a 200-W permanent magnet generator for
small wind turbines in developing countries. Most of
these small wind turbines were installed in rural communities in Peru and later on in Sri Lanka and Nepal. Piggott
continued improving the design manual and the small
wind turbines himself while organizing construction
seminars in Europe and the United States, where DIY
enthusiasts learned how to construct complete small
wind turbines. In 2008, two design manuals presenting
well-documented and highly detailed procedures of con-

Open-Source hardware
Locally manufactured small wind turbine technology is
developed through a bottom-up innovation process, which
is quite unique and resembles an open-source hardware
(OSH) community in the making. In such bottom-up
innovation processes, research and development is typically
conducted by the users themselves, with an open-design
approach. This increases the reconfigurability of the end
product, while modifications of manufacturing techniques
IEEE Electrific ation Magazine / March 2 0 1 5

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