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Title: Small wind turbines for decentralised rural electrification : case studies in Peru, Nicaragua and Scotland
Author: Sumanik-Leary, Jon
Awarding Body: University of Sheffield
Current Institution: University of Sheffield
Date of Award: 2013
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This thesis began as an engineering optimisation of Small Wind Turbine (SWT) blades for hand manufacture in developing countries. However, it soon became apparent that many of the SWTs installed in rural communities across the global south were not even in operation, let alone operating efficiently. This thesis reconceptualises SWTs as more than just a piece of technology that exists independent of the people that construct, install, operate and maintain it. The fundamental argument put forward is that in order to truly understand the reasons why so many SWTs are failing to provide the energy services for which they were designed, a holistic viewpoint must be taken that encompasses both social and technical issues. Case studies in Peru, Nicaragua and Scotland were undertaken to determine the key factors that have led to the success or failure of SWTs in each particular local context. From this evidence, a framework was developed to break down the socio-technical system that exists in each place into its component parts and the interactions between them, facilitating comparison between cases and the identification of the critical factors in wind-based decentralised rural electrification. The case study evidence has shown that taking this socio-technical perspective is in fact even more important for SWTs than for solar photovoltaics (PV), as almost every stage in the technology life cycle requires more support. Most notably, the wind resource is highly variable in both space and time (making resource assessment particularly difficult and limiting the scalability of the technology) and maintenance requirements are high (making technical support after installation from a service network and the empowerment of community technicians/end-users essential). SWTs have not been as successful as either solar PV or micro-hydro and nor do they have the potential to be. However, they do provide a third option for rural electrification in windy regions where neither solar nor hydro can provide sufficient electrical power throughout the year.
Supervisor: Howell, Rob ; While, Aidan Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available