International workshop on natural and low-cost materials in wind energy technologies for developing countries

Access to energy is an important prerequisite for development as well as for reducing poverty in developing countries. The energy should preferably come from sustainable energy sources which do not involve a large grid. Wind turbines are a good solution to this challenge, not least because of high potential for utilising local resources for the blades such as wood.

The development of reliable wind turbines productible in developing countries was the main subject of the three-day workshop organised by Risø DTU and Kathmandu Power and Energy Group. The workshop was sponsored by Danida funds from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark.

The workshop was part of the Danish-Nepalese cooperation project "Development of wind energy technologies in Nepal on the basis of natural materials". The NGO Practical Action Nepal is also a partner in this project which is led by Senior Scientist Leon Mishnaevsky from Risø DTU's Materials Research Division. He was in charge of the workshop.

Approx 70 lecturers, guests and students from all over the world participated in the workshop.

Many students from Nepalese universities had applied for participation, and the organisers chose the best qualified by asking them to write an essay about their interest in wind energy and about perspectives for this energy source in Nepal. The students who had written good essays were invited to attend the workshop. Some of them, who could not afford the registration fee or necessary stay expenses received financial support from the organizing committee.

Lecturers from USA, Germany, Denmark, United Kingdom, Australia, Sri Lanka, India and Kenya as well as Nepalese specialists and engineers gave their presentations on various aspects concerning this subject; including choice of material, prediction of strength and reliability and examples of projects in developing countries where small wind turbines have made a difference.

The Danida funded project on wind energy in Nepal started in 2007, and will continue 2 years from now.

"In our further work we will carry out comprehensive studies of different sorts of Nepali timbers, using the advanced computational modelling and mechanical testing. This will allow us to develop recommendations for the optimal choice of timber to be used in locally-produced wind turbines. With these recommendations, our Nepali partners will produce reliable, low cost wind turbines and test them in rural areas of Nepal” says Project Leader Leon Mishnaevsky

“We hope that the project will lead to more wind turbines in the small communities and start a positive development. Access to electricity allows people to prolong their working hours per day, which should lead to the improvement of their living conditions, to provide more educational possibilities for adults and children, improve hygienic and health conditions".