Vestas, Masdar to collaborate on bringing affordable electricity to energy-poor, wind-rich rural communities

25 November 2013 by Tom Gray Tom Gray
Wind turbine manufacturer Vestas announced the launch of Wind for Prosperity, a program in which it will collaborate with Abu Dhabi’s renewable energy company Masdar on projects to supply affordable electricity to energy-poor, wind-rich rural communities around the world.  The companies will hold an official launch event for the initiative tomorrow in New York City.

Wind for Prosperity, the firm said, “combines robust, factory-refurbished wind turbines with advanced diesel power generation to create hybrid systems that are well-suited to operate on mini-grids in remote locations with limited infrastructure.  These Vestas turbines are easy to transport and erect; they have a proven track record and are easy to maintain.”

Morten Albæk, Vestas Group Senior Vice President and CMO, explained, “Many of the world’s most underserved citizens rely primarily on diesel generators for what power they have, which is expensive and polluting.  Wind for Prosperity uses Vestas’s unique weather data processing capabilities to identify energy-poor but wind-rich areas where Vestas’s wind hybrid solutions can power social and economic growth.  As one of the biggest corporate initiatives to combat energy poverty and deploy green technology in developing countries, Wind for Prosperity is a triple win--generating growth, reducing pollution, and doing both profitably.”

The first Wind for Prosperity projects focus on up to 13 Kenyan communities that are home to more than 200,000 people.  These projects--being planned in coordination with the Kenyan Ministry of Energy, Kenya Power and Light Company, and various government agencies--are expected to supply electricity at a cost at least 30% below the current cost of power production based on diesel only.  Frontier Investment Management is actively involved in developing the Kenyan opportunity and, together with Vestas, is exploring potential Wind for Prosperity projects in other African countries.

Masdar, Vestas said, “strongly shares the vision behind the initiative and brings a deep experience in managing the implementation of renewable energy projects in developing countries.”  Masdar will focus on managing the development and construction of Wind for Prosperity projects, while Vestas will focus on wind-mapping, site design, and sourcing and refurbishing wind turbines.

“Addressing the lack of access to clean, reliable and affordable energy services for billions of people is one of the world’s most critical development challenges and is becoming increasingly prominent on the international agenda,” said Masdar Chief Operating Officer Mohamed al Ramahi. “For the last 40 years, the United Arab Emirates has been committed to helping countries achieve economic growth and introducing technology that allows access to energy. This project is aligned with Masdar’s mission to work on the introduction of sustainable energy solutions.”

Vestas’s public commitment on Wind for Prosperity answers the United Nations’ “Sustainable Energy for All” call to action.  “Sustainable Energy for All is about public-private-partnerships,” said Kandeh Yumkella, the United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Representative and Chief Executive. “We need new and good technologies to help the energy-poor access clean, reliable, affordable and modern energy services to manage their everyday lives. If good technologies can’t be financed, an energy revolution is impossible. Vestas’s Wind for Prosperity will help transform lives and communities.”

Vestas said the new initiative is being funded out of its marketing budget for new markets, adding, “Development costs are roughly in line with the cost of a regular media campaign.  Wind for Prosperity constitutes a relatively small share of Vestas’s annual marketing budget.  We expect this to be a successful investment commercially--adding to the bottom line in the near term and helping to open new markets to wind energy further down the line.

Wind for Prosperity aims to install the hybrid power generation system in 100 communities reaching at least one million people in the next three years.  Additional opportunities are being explored in countries such as Ethiopia, Tanzania, Yemen, Pakistan, Vietnam, and Nicaragua.

More information on the program is available at www.WindForProsperity.com.

Photo credit: Courtesy of Vestas Wind Systems A/S.