Thanks to Robin Lovelace for these videos of a debate at the Small Is… Festival 2011 between Teo Sanchez (Practical Action), David Sharman (Ampair), Aran Eales (V3 Power), and David Howey (Oxford University). The debate was ably chaired by Steven Hunt. Here is a link to the whole set of videos on youtube.
I still don’t know myself whether it makes economic sense to build small wind turbines locally to help the poor but it’s certainly a lot of fun trying to. And it has been proved that building wind turbines does tend to make people happier. Our work is as much about empowering people as it is about powering their homes.
David overplays the threat of people stealing his intellectual property and putting him out of business, but he brings a refreshing reality to the discussion. And it is true that volunteer and aid programs can just as easily undermine local business development as they can foster it. David has sent me his Small wind trends DS 02 09 11 slides for the presentation. They contain some bewilderingly crucial facts about small wind development in the UK.
Solar energy may very well prove cheaper than wind energy, but a mix of wind and solar on a good wind site is hard to beat.