|Participants of the wind-power conference in Dakar, Senegal|
By Pedro Neves - For the first time in history the majority of the organizations working with Piggott-style wind turbines gathered in one place to discuss their experiences and come together to form a global association to further their efforts. The innovative conference on small wind power took place during the 2011 World Social Forum in Dakar, Senegal between the 7th and 11th of February at the Cheik Anta Diop university in Dakar. Not officially part of the WSF, it was organized by CIFRES, EolSenegal and blueEnergy as an opportunity to share techniques and applications of small wind in rural communities.
|Participants view a Piggott-style turbine|
The first days of the conference were dedicated to the presentation of the different organizations present. From the groundbreaking experiences of Scoraig Wind to new ventures such as I Love Windpower Mali and Tanzania, commercial experiences of SolarMad, the activism of Tripalium, the integrated support of Renewable World and the holistic experience of blueEnergy, the hardest-working names in small wind had an opportunity to corroborate. The presentation of the organizations was followed by the carving of blades and winding of coils for a small experimental penta-bladed machine. During the first days of the conference two technical discussion sessions - by Noam Dotan from COMET-ME and Pedro Neves from blueEnergy -were also held alongside an exposition by Aurore Valverde and Julie Zarka from blueEnergy on the social aspect of using small wind turbines for rural electrification. The intent of the first was to put all the organizations present sharing the problems they face and the solutions they have found for them. The second intended to share the difficulties of implementing small wind turbines without the proper social intervention.
On the fourth day of the conference a visit to the community of Mbay Mbay allowed the participants to see one of the wind turbine systems installed by EolSenegal. Mbay Mbay is a rural community focused on agriculture, relying on diesel water pumps to irrigate the fields. Together with another Senegalese NGO, EolSenegal installed a well pump, irrigation system and associated electrical system. Currently the system is not working as there is a dispute between the ownership of the irrigated fields. Once again the social side reveals itself as a key element in rural electrification.
The presence of several organizations that work with small wind turbines was the perfect base to establish the foundations of a global association of small wind turbine organizations. Upon returning from the visit to Mbay Mbay the ideas and possible objectives of such organization were presented by Mathias Craig from blueEnergy. In the following day these objectives and ideas were further defined - sharing funding leads, sharing technical research and sharing socio-economical models. Workgroups on the practical aspects of the organization, such as the website, name and others were formed and put to work on site. This resulted in the launching of a global association.
To close the week of conferences a round-table session on rural electrification and development was held. The round table drew upon different experiences and knowledge from different organizations such as Scoraig, Renewable World, Aja Mali, Solar Mad as well as Comet ME. This diversity motivated the expressive participation of local students and business development actors that asked questions and intervened on the topic of hybrid solar-wind rural electrification.