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Vestas targets energy-poor regions with hybrid plants

WORLDWIDE: Vestas is to establish hybrid wind and diesel power plants in energy-poor areas after forming a joint venture with Abu Dhabi renewable energy company Masdar.

a view to establishing hybrid wind and diesel wind plants in energy-poor areas.
a view to establishing hybrid wind and diesel wind plants in energy-poor areas.

Under the 'Wind for Prosperity' venture, the companies will work together to source out-of-use turbines. Vestas will refurbish them at its factories while Masdar will install and run them.

In order to provide steady energy generation, Vestas said that "advanced diesel generators" will be installed alongside the refurbished turbines. It said these are "well suited to operate on mini-grids in remote locations with limited infrastructure".

The V27-225kW and V47-660kW turbines will be sourced from decommissioned or repowered wind farms and refurbished with the aim of running for another 10 years. Each site will feature one or two of the turbines which will be replaced as the power needs of the community increase.

"Many of the world's most underserved citizens rely primarily on diesel generators for what power they have, which is expensive and polluting," said Vestas senior vice president Morten Albaek.

"Wind for Prosperity uses Vestas' unique weather data processing capabilities to identify energy-poor but wind-rich areas where Vestas' wind hybrid solutions can power social and economic growth."

The idea for the venture stemmed from the release of data showing infant mortality rates, which is often linked to energy poverty, and the combining of this data with mapping of areas with wind speeds of 7m/s or higher.

The analysis found that there are at least 50 million people who live in the crossover areas that would be suited to this form of generation, Vestas said.

The first six projects, for which sites have been selected, are being planned in coordination with the Kenyan Ministry of Energy and the Kenya Power and Light Company, and are expected to go online in the second half of 2014. Local utility companies will be responsibile for creating and managing the mini grids.

The manufacturer claimed that the plants are expected to supply electricity at around 30% below the current cost of power production based on diesel only.

But Albaek is keen to point out that the venture is not a charity, saying: "This will be profitable in itself. It's not going to generate tens of millions of euros, but it certainly won't be loss making."

Wind for Prosperity has a target of installing the hybrid power systems in 100 communities with the intention of reaching at least one million people in the next three years. Countries such as Ethiopia, Tanzania, Yemen, Pakistan, Vietnam, and Nicaragua are among the top targets.

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