The Tehuantepec Isthmus is one of the biggest wind corridors in the world.As such, it has been greatly used as a source for sustainable energy for Mexico's central and southern regions.The rapid development of wind turbines along this corridor has not been exempt of social divide.There are entire communities that oppose wind projects as they are not the direct benefited but the directly affected by the work related to the set-up and operation of these energy projects.Several meetings have taken place with the parties involved in social conflicts, but results have been scarce, despite the goodwill of both the local government and the involved enterprises.It is also to point out for the evaluating group that this region is among the poorest ones in the country, thus high illiteracy rates and a lack of opportunities prevail.This makes even more challenging the work of the personnel that try to explain to the local population about the benefits of wind energy.Therefore, when dialogue fails with adults, we believe the solution relies on educating the children.
We are a group of four senior students of the Monterrey Institute of Technology's program on Engineering in Sustainable Development, and we believe that we can succeed where others have failed if little by little we approach children of Oaxaca communities with wind energy.Specifically we chose to work with the community of San Dionisio del Mar, a less than five thousand inhabitants indigenous community with one of the highest wind velocities in the corridor.It is important to point out that this community has the particularity that more than half of its population speak a dialect called "Huave", an almost extinct tongue that has been preserved only in San Dionisio del Mar. The vast majority of them are bilingual,so they speak both Spanish and Huave, plus the four existing schools in town teach classes in both languages.Nevertheless, the average years in school is less than nine, which means that none of them is to attend high school and not even think about university studies.
Furthermore if no teaching on energy generation is given to them, it is difficult for them to visualize the concepts that can convince them of the environmental benefits of sustainable energy.
Throughout our university studies we realized the potential of vertical axis wind turbines (VAWT) as opposed to horizontal axis ones with respect to residential use.The smaller size and generation of Darrieus and Savonius types of turbines are ideal for didactical purposes.Thus, we decided to create our own type of VAWT by mixing characteristics of Darrieus and Savonius.This model was a hand-made six-bladed turbine capable of producing one milliwat (mW).We incorporated second use materials for the construction, such as bicycle wheels and PVC from scratch.
The result is an 80% recycled-material vertical axis wind turbine.
With our model completed, we started elaborating the design of a step-by-step manual of DIY (do-it-yourself) small scale wind turbine, capable of powering an LED light for now.Although this manual will be in Spanish, we plan to hire a community-member translator to Huave in order to spread it among children of the community of San Dionisio del Mar. More specifically, we plan to give schools at San Dionisio a model of the turbine with the corresponding manuals so that the turbine can me assembled and disassembled by the kids, with the help of their teachers.
We believe this to be the best option to reduce the negative thoughts usually associated with wind energy, by giving the opportunity to kids to learn and have fun while assembling their own VAWT.By doing further research we discovered that most teachers in town are volunteers, which makes it easier to work together by introducing this project in their study plans.
It is imperative for us now to gather the money required for reproducing both the models and the manuals of our turbine, as well as the translator and our own mobility expenses caused by constant trips to the state of Oaxaca.If successful, we will have built a milestone for a sustainable future in a community of doubtless uniqueness.
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