Tall metal poles rise out of the fields, their rotary blades slowly turning breeze into electricity. That’s the picture that springs to mind when we think of wind energy. But what if you could make your own wind turbine?
Wind power is one of the leading forms of green energy and as is the case with many kinds of electricity generation, it’s not something most individuals can easily produce at home. Or is it?
Since 2013, Daniel Connell, a designer and inventor from New Zealand, has been doing his bit for the environment by teaching people around the world how to build their own mini wind turbines. It might sound like an almost impossible undertaking, but it’s not difficult, he insists.
“If you can cut and fold paper then you can make a wind turbine. It is really that simple. Plus, it’s very cheap; it will cost you maximum 35 euros,” the innovator said, adding that many people who’ve attended his workshops in Europe, New Zealand and Australia have “never held a drill before.”
Connell has also made a construction tutorial for the cheap DIY turbine available online. All that would-be wind-energy producers need is access to tools such as power drills, spanners and craft knives.
The vertical axis wind turbine was one of 177 projects to be presented at the Paris climate change negotiations in December 2015. It’s also not Connell’s first foray into DIY renewable energy. He’s designed a cheap, open source solar energy collector known as the Solarflower too.
For Connell, it’s particuarly important that students gain practical experience so they can build things for themselves. And he applies the same thinking to his own life, choosing not to go to university on the grounds that most degree programs are too theoretical.
“I get slightly shocked sometimes,” Connell told DW. “I ran a workshop in a university once where the students did the course specifically to do something practical – they wanted to do something hands-on. As it turned out, my one-day workshop was literally the only time they have done anything practical in the entire course.”
Connell also hopes his designs can help create a more local, decentralized approach to renewable energy.
“[DIY] is a better solution and a better way of doing things: to produce everything as close to yourself geographically as you can. Also it’s just nicer, for us, living in the West, to produce energy and your own food.”