Wind power in the field

by Jon Thompson on December 16, 2008

I apologize for the sporadic nature of my posts these last few weeks.  It’s just that I recently became immersed in all things green because of my new gig and my mind is churning away on all the possibilities.  It is actually a welcome change from the IT world which seems to be offering woefully little to the humanitarian aid community these days and I have long suspected that green energy will play an increasingly important role in the work we do.  From emergency teams bringing along their own juice, to every clinic we build being made semi-self-sufficient with solar panels and wind, there are changes afoot and I am now beginning to understand what will work and what won’t.

Sure, we’ve been using solar for a while in many locations but I am not sure if folks are aware that pound-for-pound wind energy is much more efficient and while it may not work in the mountains of Liberia teams in many coastal and desert locations could benefit substantially from a durable wind turbine hooked up to an array of batteries.  Eastern Chad would be a particularly suitable spot for a small wind turbine.  The unit above, Southwest Windpower‘s Air Breeze, is a $600 highly portable unit that puts out 200W. To put that in perspective my Macbook eats 60W.  The low cost and the compact shipping size (27 x 12.5 x 9 in (686 x 318 x 229 mm) 17 lb (7.7 kg)) make this an ideal solution for teams when they are first deploying to the field.  For those of you wondering about the pole (which is the Achille’s heal of the VSAT community) there are plenty of collapsible, highly portable options.  Two of the units above could put out enough juice to power a small office running laptops, BGAN, phone chargers, etc.

I would be very interested in hearing if folks have deployed a wind turbine in the field and, if so, how it performed.  Please post a comment.

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