Rural India

"India is a country of BILLION people. Let us all join hands and spin the wheel of development faster by becoming self-reliant in electricity through natural and renewable resources like Wind Energy".

 

In the last one decade, wind power has emerged as the biggest renewable energy source in the world. Presently wind power alone is generating almost 26,000 MW capacity globally. The estimated potential of wind power within our country is 45,000 MW.

In May 2005, India surpassed Denmark and attained 4th position in the world after Germany, Spain and US in wind power generation capacity. The Grid-connected wind power generation capacity has now crossed 5,300 MW, more than half of which has been achieved in last two years alone with a capacity addition of 2,850 MW. All this power is being generated through big commercial Windmill projects ranging from 750 KW to 2 MW capacity, and it is being supplied back to the national grid to overcome power shortage in urban, industrial and commercial sectors.

However, in rural India, where the word ‘electricity’ is still a dream, millions of people do not have access to electricity in their homes. In fact, four out of these five people without electricity live in far flung villages and isolated countryside hamlets, some of which are geographically isolated and are often too sparsely populated or have a too low potential electricity demand to justify the extension of the grid. Thus, to provide access to electricity in these rural areas through other means than the extension of the grid, renewable energy like wind power is among the least cost and most feasible solution.

In India, the Mega-size Windmills with blade diameters ranging from 27 m to 54 m has taken off in a big way. However, the concept of harnessing wind power through small size Windmills is still nascent in our country. Small size wind mills with 3 to 6m (10 to 20 ft) blade diameter is one of the most adaptable, flexible and easy to use technology for generating sustainable and cheap electricity. This system is capable of producing power ranging from 500 watts to 5 Kw with an estimated daily electrical energy output of around 4 -10 KwH under a mean wind speed of 5 - 10 meter/sec. At places experiencing higher wind speed conditions, the power output may even peak to 7-8 KW albeit for shorter periods. This output is considered sufficient to meet the daily energy requirements of an average rural household, which is normally limited to 2-3 Kwh per day. The landholding in rural India being very small, a  windmill in each farm will not only light up every household but may also make these villages totally self reliant in electricity for water pumping and other agricultural needs. In terms of economics, the capital cost of a large windmill is around Rs 5.5 crore per MW, which translates to approximately Rs 60,000 per KW. In comparison, with a little impetus from the Govt of India towards exploitation of small hybrid wind power technology, the capital cost of a small windmill can be tailored around Rs. 80,000 per Kw.

The small Windmills are upwind, horizontal-axis wind machines where the rotor spins in front of the tower about a line parallel with the horizon. There are three blades made of mainly wood although cheap composite materials, such as fiberglass (glass reinforced polyester) can also be used. Because of their tiny size, small Windmills cannot afford the complexities of having yaw motors and mechanical gear drives of the bigger upwind Windmills. Almost all small Windmills use tail vanes to point the rotor into the wind. These Windmills also have a system for controlling the rotor in high winds. The Windmills "furl" or fold about a hinge so that the Blade rotor assembly swings toward the tail vane. The alternator used in this system is a Permanent Magnet Axial Flux type comprising of strong ‘Rare Earth’ Neodymium Iron Boron Magnets. These magnets commonly named as Neo, are now available in aplenty and are even becoming cheaper day by day. This is the simplest and most robust generator configuration and is quite ideal for small Windmills.

These system already have a big advantage in terms of very low maintenance requirements as they can operate for extended periods without attention; with only a few moving parts, which typically require inspection only every two years during their 20 to 40 year design life. Further, with little training and minor spare parts, local users can easily support the Windmill equipment. Since these small Windmills are so simple to manufacture, they can also be considered as a viable option for generating local employment and rural economic development. In the times to come, a developing nation like ours needs simple and sustainable alternative solutions for achieving power availability and adequacy in the rural country side. In fact small wind systems can totally replace the existing rural household expenditures for kerosene, candles and dry-cell batteries.

For reliable supply of power in remote locations or inaccessible rural areas it is also possible and sometimes necessary to design and set up hybrid system, which combines the advantages of two different energy technologies. These could be either two renewable technologies or a renewable and a conventional energy or fossil technology - a renewable energy (RE) system, say Photo Voltaic or wind, to take care of base load requirements and the conventional systems (say diesel generator) to supplement for peak load requirement. An integrated hybrid system would ensure that power supply can be maintained at an optimum level during cloudy days (for PV system) or low wind conditions (for wind electric generators). 

This website  is a small step towards recognizing the huge potential of small homebuilt wind power systems, which can generate cheap and useful electricity for millions of people deprived of this basic necessity.

"Making of a Small Windmill" is a book which details a simple procedure for fabricating a stand alone Windmill with 10 ft diameter wooden rotor blades for storing the electrical power in the Batteries. The fabrication process involves basic workshop tools and all the parts can also be easily built as a do-it-yourself (DIY) project using step by step procedures listed in this book.

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