Windturbine Construction Workshop in China

In the beginning of July from 04.07.15 to 10.07.15, I conducted a “Small Windturbine Construction Workshop” in China. The design of the turbine is based on Hugh Piggot’s Recipe Book. Guanhua Don, founder of the Self-Sufficiency Lab Anotherland, and me discussed the idea to hold a small wind turbine construction workshop at their place near to the 8-million city Qingdao. The Self-Sufficiency Lab is beautifully situated on the foot of the Lao Mountain several kilometers outside of the city center. A PDF version of this article can be downloaded here. Also check this short video (here or here) that was compiled by one of the journalists attending the workshop.

Figure 1: The Self-Sufficiency Lab Anotherland at Lao Mountain near to Qingdao

Figure 1: The Self-Sufficiency Lab Anotherland at Lao Mountain near to Qingdao

Figure 2: Guanhua gives an interview to journalists about the workshop and Anotherland

Figure 2: Guanhua gives an interview to journalists about the workshop and Anotherland

As I have been occupied with my duties at my internship at GIZ, we only had 1 day to buy all the materials and arrange at least some of the tools a week before the workshop took place. The materials very not readily available and we had to spend quite some time on searching for the right places.

Figure 3: A steel factory in Qingdao and on-site material preparation

Figure 3: A steel factory in Qingdao and on-site material preparation

Figure 4: Buying copper wire for the coils and other materials in some small streets shops in Qingdao

Figure 4: Buying copper wire for the coils and other materials in some small streets shops in Qingdao

Figure 5: Transportation of the materials to the Self-Sufficiency Lab, the location of the workshop

Figure 5: Transportating the materials to the Self-Sufficiency Lab, the place of the workshop

The participants of the workshop were from all over China with some traveling more than 1500 kilometer to take part. In total, roughly 17 adults (not counting the children some of the participating families brought along). It was a diverse crowd, ranging from students, over university lecturers and owners of organic farms to people that aspire to build up their own farms on the countryside of China, trying to escape the rat-race of the big Chinese cities.

Some of them were very skilled with using all the different tools, much better than I am. That left time and energy for me to coordinate the different steps of the construction and make sure everyone was able to contribute his/her part to the overall project.

I will not go too much into the details of the construction, because you can read all about that here. However, as we only had one day to buy the materials, we surely could not get all of them at once and we had to improvise or buy more, when we realized we didn’t have all the things we needed. The same applied to the tools and we had to get some people doing errands to the city to get some tools or materials once in a while.

Lesson learnt: Prepare well and it will save you a lot of time and troubles!

Enough talking, here are some pictures to give you an impression of the 7 days of the workshop. The turbine we set out to build has a rated power of 700 W and a rotor diameter of 2.4 meters.

Figure 6: Home-made tool storage bag (by Guanhua’s wife Zhen Zhen) and our working space in the courtyard of their house

Figure 6: Home-made tool storage bag (by Guanhua’s wife Zhen Zhen) and our working space in the courtyard of their house

Figure 7: Working on the blades

Figure 7: Working on the blades

Figure 8: Preparing the mould for stator of the generator (left) and fine-tuning the dimensions of the steel disks (right)

Figure 8: Preparing the mould for the stator of the generator (left) and fine-tuning the dimensions of the steel disks (right)

Figure 9: Teamwork is required for winding the coils (left), checking their weight and arranging them in the mould (right)

Figure 9: Teamwork is required for winding the coils (left), checking their weight and arranging them in the mould (right)

Figure 10: One steel disks with magnets casted in resin (left) and fixing a wire connection of the casted stator coils (right)

Figure 10: One steel disks with magnets casted in resin (left) and fixing a wire connection of the casted stator coils (right)

Figure 11: Assembling the generator composed of two magnet disks and the stator sandwiched between them

Figure 11: Assembling the generator composed of two magnet disks and the stator sandwiched between them

Figure 12: The finished rotor assembly and a bunch of happy people

Figure 12: The finished rotor assembly and a bunch of happy people

I believe the workshop showed the participants that building a small wind turbine (or for that matter empowered them to take things into their own hands) is possible even if you do no possess an extended experience, as long as you work together in a team.

And even though language barriers did make things complicated at times, together we managed to build a small wind turbine that works!

Figure 13: Finally, the small wind turbine is completed

Figure 13: Finally, the small wind turbine is completed

My experience from this workshop can be summarized as exhausting but incredibly rewarding.

I met so many thoughtful and critical Chinese people that don’t want to be part of the mass consumption and modernization going on in China right now, people that have their own dreams about what the good life is and how to attain it.

And I am also very happy that at least two of the participants plan to build their own small wind turbine during the next months.

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