Wind turbine manufacturer Vestas and Abu Dhabi’s renewable energy company Masdar have launched Wind for Prosperity an initiative aimed at bringing affordable electricity to energy-poor, wind-rich rural communities.
Wind for Prosperity combines, factory-refurbished wind turbines with advanced diesel power generation to create hybrid systems that are well-suited to operate on mini-grids in remote locations with limited infrastructure. Vestas says that the turbines are easy to transport and erect; they have a proven track record and are easy to maintain.
Masdar will focus on managing the development and construction of Wind for Prosperity projects; while Vestas will focus on wind-mapping, site design, and sourcing and refurbishing wind turbines.
Vestas says that Wind for Prosperity creates an opportunity for business, government, and financial institutions to combine their talents to improve people’s lives and generate risk-adjusted returns for private investors.
The first Wind for Prosperity projects focus on up to 13 Kenyan communities that are home to more than 200,000 people. These projects – being planned in coordination with the Kenyan Ministry of Energy, Kenya Power and Light Company, and various government agencies – are expected to supply electricity at least 30 percent below the current cost of power production based on diesel only. Frontier Investment Management is actively involved in developing the Kenyan opportunity and together with Vestas is exploring potential Wind for Prosperity projects in other African countries.
Wind for Prosperity aims to install the hybrid power generation system in 100 communities reaching at least one million people in the next three years. Additional opportunities are being explored in countries such as Ethiopia, Tanzania, Yemen, Pakistan, Vietnam, and Nicaragua.
In November last year, Vestas announced plans to close three of its US-based research and development offices: in Louisville, Colo., Marlborough, Mass., and Houston, Texas. The closures came just a month after the company said it would consolidate its US research operations to its offices in Brighton, Colo. The closures included layoffs for about 85 of Vestas’ 2,600 workers in North America. Vestas continues research and development operations at its US headquarters in Portland, Ore.