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Cameroon: GreenStep project on village wind and hydro

The people of M'muock will soon learn how to construct their own wind turbines and hydroelectric plants using local materials in a pilot project organized by Munich, Germany-based Green Step.
The organization will teach the 7,000-person town of M'muock how to build and operate small renewable energy plants out of wood and old car and radio parts.

Ninety percent of the Cameroon people are not connected to the national electricity grid. Each person in Cameroon consumes an average of 160 KW/h of electricity a year, according to a World Bank report from 2005.

"Most families in M'muock need electricity to power two light bulbs in their homes, a radio, television and also to recharge mobile phones," said Ehlers.

At the moment, gas-powered electricity generators are widely used in the town. These need about one liter of gas to run for an hour. With gas hard to obtain in M'muock and a liter costing one euro, or about three times as much as an average meal, this puts a strain on family budgets, Ehlers said.

She said that the organization had chosen to build lots of small wind and hydroelectric plants around the town and in remote farms instead of one big central plant because the small-scale technology was more affordable.

Families can pay off the costs of constructing a wind turbine — about 300 euros for a 1KW plant and 100 euros for a 300 W plant — in installments. And there is more incentive for people to invest their time in maintaining the equipment if they derive a direct benefit from operating it, Ehlers said.

In addition, the skills learned in building and operating the wind and water turbines, which take about 3 weeks to build, could provide an income to families. Another aim of the project is to give people the know-how to start their own businesses in constructing and maintaining wind turbines and small hydroelectric plants.

The wind turbines will be made from locally sourced parts.

Old car batteries will store electricity for up to a week in order to provide light when there is no wind blowing. Hertlein will also give workshops on how to dispose of batteries and other waste as well as provide information on sustainable farming and protecting the town's natural resources.

The cost of the project is 57,000 euros [US $84,300] and if successful, Green Step said it could be expanded to help other towns build and operate renewable energy plants from local materials so that like Cameroon, they will have their own independent electricity supply.


Additional information: Visit the GreenStep web site (German only)
News date: 08/03/2008

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