In December 2009, two 300W wind turbines were installed in Alichur town, Murghab Region as part of the MSDSP Pamir Allied Land Management (PALM) project together with the local village organisation. This project was funded 80% by MSDSP and 20% by the Village Organisation (VO) at a cost of approximately $3-4,000 per turbine installation.
Alichur is located on the Pamir Highway, 4 hours / 207 km by road from Khorog and 2 hours / 104 km from Murghab at an altitude of 3863m. It has a population of approximately 1500 people (150 families). It is on the broad and open plateau between the northern (highest peak 5880m) and southern Alichur mountain ranges (highest peak 5500m) which both run east to west. There is limited vegetation (mostly below 50cm high) and the building structures in the village are all below 4m in height (i.e. single storey).
Alichur does not have a local grid and is hundred/s of km from the nearest network grid (Khorog/Murghab). There is no water suitable for a hydro electric installation (insufficient drop and freezing temperatures in winter). There are some solar panels placed on the rooves of houses. Petrol generators are the only other possible source of electricity but the cost of petrol is high and rising (US$1.5 per litre).
Most wind occurs from March to May and September to November and the wind is significantly less in the mid-summer and mid-winter. The predominant wind direction in Alichur is westerly to south-westerly but the wind also sometimes comes from the south or the north-west.
The turbine installations were carried out by the villagers themselves over two days. One of the turbines is located by the school building and provides electricity to power the headmaster’s computer for a few hours a day. The second turbine is located next to some houses to support one of the poorest families in the village. The masts are supported by four guy ropes attached to footings (bent at an angle at the base) which are sunk in 50-80cm of concrete.
The wind turbines continue to work well and generate electricity and there have been no breakdowns or need for replacement parts over the past 18 months of usage.
There was enormous pride from those we met at the school and members of the VO in having the turbines and ownership was clearly very high which helps to ensure continued operation and maintenance of the turbines.
The pilot can be considered a huge success in terms of proving that wind is a viable alternative and renewable energy source for Alichur.
Opportunities identified for future installations:
- It has been recognised that the wind turbines are located too close to the nearby buildings which is approximately halving the potential power that could be generated. The locations were chosen so that only a short transmission cable was needed and to avoid any interference with the area where the children play or animals roam, hence minimising the risk of damage. If the turbines were located further from the buildings, then wind turbulence would be minimised and performance improved. It is not recommended that the turbines should be re-located on the roof.
- The 300W power output is now considered insufficient as it can only power one computer and they are unable to run the printer at the same time. There are three other computers in the school which requires a diesel generator to enable their use.
- The VO in Alichur was concerned that the mast moved at high wind speed. However, this is probably not a major concern and can be solved by more guy ropes or the tightening of the fastenings. The VO asked about alternative tower masts which might be more stable. However, thicker masts would slow the turbine as the blades pass through the wind shadow of the mast. This also increases the risk of the blade shearing.
We wish to recognise the contributions of all of those involved in this innovative and important pilot. In particular, we recognise MSDSP for their willingness to support and finance the initiative and the VO who are both bold and active in achieving this success.