The GEF has made $2 million available for the project, which includes a market study to assess the need for electricity and the price people are willing to pay for it. A wind map of Mauritania has also been completed, revealing average wind speeds of 4.8 m/s.
Under the project's first construction phase, LMW will supply 15 wind converters in the 600-2500 W size range. These will mainly be used for charging 12 V batteries for household use. A charged battery lasts a week, providing power for light and black and white television. A family pays $1.5 a month for the service and another $1.5 per charging. Calculated as a price per kWh, LMW's Johan Kuikman admits this is steep, but the alternatives (butane and paraffin) are far more expensive.
Using revenue earned during the first phase of the project, the second phase will proceed with delivery of a further 85 wind converters. By this time a large part of the machines will be made locally, including on site balancing of the rotor. Only the mast of the first 15 units is being produced locally.
LMW Renewables has previous experience from operating three of its wind converters in Mauritania, two for battery charging and one for an electrical pump. Up until now they have not met with major technical or material problems, says Kuikman. "You have to paint the mast more often because of the sand. For the same reason you need more grease for the moving parts," he adds. There is one unique desert problem, though -- large insects. Rotor blades can be damaged in unavoidable collisions with flying bugs, says Kuikman.