WorldWind Issue 4 - February 2017

Welcome to this issue of WindAid Institute’s newsletter, WorldWind.

2016 was a year of change - which might have far reaching consequences for life on the planet. This is an uncertain time for all those of us trying to have less impact on the environment. But the good news is that many people are trying and in the windy world of WindAid we had a very good year.

In this edition of WorldWind you can read about how we finished off 2016 and have entered 2017 with a bang - or should that be a whoosh!

Playa Blanca Update

The November 2016 to January 2017 groups made three visits to Playa Blanca between them, and made great progress on the Community Wind Workshop, as well as the standard turbine installations. The composting toilet has come a long way: the pit was dug, the walls lined and a reinforced concrete floor laid, all under the direction of our Peruvian interns Gonzalo and Kevin, and Engineers Without Borders engineer, Stuart. Volunteer coordinator, Jack headed up digging the footings and pouring concrete for walls of the workshop itself, initially without the help of a cement mixer! For a solid day and half Renata and Gean practically lived in a hole they were digging, despite the heat, which will become the water storage tank.

The heat was pretty intense, being summer in Peru, and the teams made sure they took advantage of the cool sea and were rewarded with a water light show of bioluminescent algae.

We also set up a 'green pop up cinema' night for the kids, showing them the Playa Blanca Kickstarter (crowdfunding) video featuring some of themselves and then an animated film, all of which was powered by clean wind energy from our workshop turbine.

There’s still plenty more to do on the workshop, so several of our 2017 groups will be visiting to keep constructing the Community Wind Workshop and installing and maintaining turbines in the village.

Funding Playa Blanca

We have done two fundraising drives to meet the cost of the Community Wind Workshop in Playa Blanca.  The crowdfunding campaign last June raised enough for us to do the first stage, and on Giving Tuesday in November we had a bit more donated to the cause.

Thank you as always to our generous supporters, and if you want to chip in, the details are on our website. Every little helps!

Birds Eye View

If you are curious about where we work, check out this video. November volunteer Chen brought a drone with him and shot an amazing film of our communities, and the workshop and house in Trujillo.  You can watch it here.

Remote Monitoring Project

The aim of this project is to develop a remote monitoring device that can be fitted to all the (smaller, for now) turbines to record data on their performance and automatically collect centrally for analysis. The benefits would be faster identification of any performance issues, and data for use in developing new system designs.

You may have read about the project in last month’s WorldWind article by our long term volunteer Stuart Llewellyn, who is leading on the project. A quick recap - His monitor uses a small computer called a Raspberry Pi, and a microcontroller called an Arduino, which receives signals from sensors e.g. measurements of voltage and current from the turbines and wind speed and can act on those signals. The Raspberry Pi then creates a file with the data which can be opened in a spreadsheet for viewing and processing.  Our goal is to have a user-friendly front end for viewing the performance near real-time. Alerts could be built in to tell us when there are any apparent anomalies in the performance.

Depending on how smoothly development goes, we are aiming to install the remote monitor on our test turbines in Trujillo and Playa Blanca at the end of quarter 1 2017, and in live sites from early quarter 4.  

If you want to know more about this interesting development project, do get in touch with us or read Stuart’s blog.

Annual Report

Our summary of WindAid in 2016 will be available soon on our website.  It was certainly a busy year, with more volunteers and interns than ever before: 59, from 21 countries. They built and repaired 17 turbines that together provide energy to an estimated 260 people.

We would like to send them all a huge thank you for their contribution - we loved having them here with us.  Do keep in touch!

Intern Roles

2017 is already shaping up to be at least as busy as 2016 and we need more hands on deck! We have a number of intern positions available through the year. Interning at WindAid offers great work experience with a fun team in an amazing country. Interns get food and accommodation and opportunities to visit communities on installation trips. We usually look for a minimum month commitment for interns.

If you know someone who would be interested in an internship here with us in Peru, the roles we are particularly looking for currently are:

  • Volunteer Co-ordinators - to support and guide the volunteers - from May 2017
  • Communications interns - to engage with our supporters through social media and help with events, campaigns and fundraising.
  • Community Impacts Officer - to engage with our communities to help us understand more fully the impacts on them of receiving our turbines and how we can make any improvements.
You can read more about internships on our website.
Insights from an Intern - Michelle Farhat
Volunteer Coordinator and Shop Engineer Internship – WindAid Take 2!
Ever since I was a volunteer waaay back in June of 2014, I knew that I wanted to come back to WindAid, and for a much longer time. Two and a half years and a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Engineering later, I’m finally back in Trujillo, and I can’t be happier! This time, however, I’m here as a Volunteer Coordinator and Shop Engineer Intern, which means I get to help new volunteers have amazing experiences of their own.

As a Volunteer Coordinator I help with the logistics surrounding volunteers: collecting them when they arrive, getting them to and from the shop, and generally organizing things in the WindAid house. But more importantly (at least in my opinion), is helping volunteers get out of the house to explore and experience not only Trujillo, but Peru as a whole. That could mean going to a local Marinera performance to see the traditional dancing horses in the “Paso de Caballos”, or traveling to Cajamarca to hike and see the “Bosque de Piedras”.

As a Shop Engineer, I teach the volunteers all there is to know about building our turbines. From winding coils, to welding, to making the blade, I know how to do it all. Well, I will. Since I’ve only been here for about five weeks now, I still have A LOT to learn. Luckily, I have a great partner Volunteer Coordinator/Shop Engineer, Jack, who has been showing me the ropes.

Overall, the past five weeks have been a whirlwind, always on the move and doing something, but I’ve loved every second of it. Even though I haven’t been here long, I’ve met and reconnected with some truly remarkable people – volunteers, pro staff, community members, and even volunteers from other organizations. In addition to working in the shop, I’ve had some amazing experiences – salsa dancing (with a live band!), sand boarding, bonfires, karaoke, seeing the Paso de Caballos, swimming with bioluminescent algae and, of course, traveling to and working in the incredible beach community of Playa Blanca, where I’ve eaten the most delicious fish of my entire life. I can’t wait to see what the next five months have in store for me.

House Bulletin - TBC

News from the house is that we have a new resident, so keen to join us that he literally threw himself in front of the Beast (our car) one day. The young dog came off slightly worse for wear, but is now healing and well settled in to the Windy House. He’s called Chocho, which means cheeky, as it soon became clear that is a strong personality trait!

Volunteer Co-ordinator Jack has made a start on the new roof garden too.

We were recently lucky to get a few days of time from Josh Getz, who joined us here in Trujillo with his camera and took some amazing, professional shots of WindAid staff and volunteers at work and at play. We were very grateful to Josh for visiting us and giving us such great visual records of the WindAid life.

WindAid on Tour - South America

WindAid’s Project Development Engineer, Jessica Rivas, has been busy travelling to other parts of South America creating awareness about WindAid’s work, renewable energy, sustainable living, and participating in workshops.  She was invited to present "small wind turbines" to the guardabosques (park guards) in Coca and Cocachimba by the NGO Gocta Natura, near Chachapoyas in northern Peru.  Gocta Natura is working to rebuild the cloud forest in the Gocta Nature Reserve and gives workshops on sustainability to the community.

In Argentina, she attended the Wind Empowerment conference where she gave a presentation of the projects WindAid has going on in Peru and met with over 30 leaders in the small wind sector. Now she will not only be representing WindAid but has also been elected to be the Board's Coordinator! Wind Empowerment is an association of small wind turbine organizations that share their expertise, knowledge and work from around the world.

And in Chile right down at the tip of the Patagonia, Jess helped teach a wind turbine course with 500RPM. During the one week course, she learned to make wooden blades and presented on the benefits of fiberglass blades which a number of attendees were particularly interested in. There is a possibility that we will be able to run some turbine courses there as fiberglass blades seem to be a hit! She also helped with the installation of a turbine on a very remote island near Puerto Natalaes with no grid electricity.

What’s Next

Projects continuing and coming up include remote monitoring, the controller, improvements to the stator, working out how to use our own waste plastic in our new 3D printer, website updates and improvements, and deciding how to celebrate our 3rd birthday as a NGO on 28 April. But before that we will be welcoming our 300th volunteer in the March group!

2017 Program Dates

Join us for one of our standard four-week programs to build and maintain turbines and install them in fascinating and friendly rural communities in the mountains and coasts of Peru. Our remaining 2017 dates are:

13 March - 7 April
17 April - 12 May
22 May - 16 June
26 June - 21 July
31 July - 25 August
4 September - 29 September
9 October - 3 November
13 November - 8 December

Find out more here.

And Finally…

Some of you may remember Michael’s little house on the coast in Trujillo. The sea encroached further and further and we are sad to report that it won the battle and the house is no more… The erosion of the coast is in part due to climate change and in part due to an industrial port further down the coast that has changed the pattern of the currents in the area.

The photos below are from around 8 years ago, and around 1 year ago.
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