Why Small-Scale Wind Turbines Make Sense in Rural India, But Not So Much in Indiana

small wind turbines photo

photo: Ryan Somma via flickr

A number of sources have outlined new plans of India's Tata Power Company to help electrify rural India through deployment of small-scale wind turbines, the same general type that are marketed throughout the US for rooftop and backyard usage. It's a great idea in India, where rural electric grid access is spotty and energy usage low, less so elsewhere.Earth & Industry sums up the Tata plan:

The Tata Power Company, a subsidiary of the Tata group, plans to test a 2 kW wind turbine which would generate enough electricity to meet the basic demands of an small rural home. With several thousand villages still not connected with the national grid this micro turbine could prove highly beneficial.

The 2 kW turbine which can be mounted on rooftops would be enough to power multiple ceiling fans (rated 60 W) and bulbs/lights (rated 40 W). Even more appliances if battery systems are coupled with the wind turbines.

Tata's also experimenting with a 35 kilowatt wind turbine mounted to a blimp that will float about 1000 feet above the ground, and generating power from rice husks in rural areas as part of program to "establish a model for rural Indian that can have mass usage at low cost." (Business Standard)

rural india photo

photo: Kirsten via flickr
Small Amounts of Electricity Life-Transforming in India
Now, more decentralized power generation is a good idea pretty much anywhere, but the deployment of small-scale wind turbines makes far more sense in the Indian context than pretty much anywhere in the US, where the energy demand is so much greater.

Here, a rooftop or backyard wind turbine is much more a fashion statement than something which actually will offset a significant portion of energy usage--especially in urban or semi-urban conditions. You'd be better off just signing up for a green power program with your utility, or buying or leasing solar panels, if you want to reduce the environmental impact of your electricity use.

In India however, the amount of power generated by them though could make a very real difference in people's lives. Those 70 kilowatt-hours per week (very roughly) generated by these small wind turbines simply means much more there than it does here.

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More on Wind Power:
Small Scale Wind Turbine Power Claims Grossly Overstated: New UK Report
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