German philanthropist donates turbine to village of Batokuku

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The West African country of Gambia is about to join the wind power fraternity thanks to a philanthropic initiative lead by German engineer Peter Weissferdt and his wife, who live in Gambia. All being well, last month a second-hand, eight-year-old Danish Bonus 150 kW turbine started feeding electricity to the village of Batokunku, in the coastal Kombo South district. Weissferdt estimates it will generate around 200,000 kWh a year, enough to meet the needs of Batokunku's 80 households "almost free of charge." Excess power will be sold to the local utility via the grid. An elected committee of villagers will run the turbine on a non-profit basis, with all revenues being reinvested in this or other similar social projects. Weissferdt started the project in 1999, under the auspices of the Association for Rural Electrification in Gambia, but only received the final licence to produce and supply electricity in August. The association has invested more than GMD 4 million (EUR 113,500) in the project, including cabling, a transformer substation and the turbine. Weissferdt hopes Batokunku will provide a model for similar initiatives in Gambia -- and perhaps open the doors for bigger turbines.

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