Kickstarting an Energy Revolution!

For many years, WindAid Institute has been installing wind turbines in rural communities here in Peru that have no grid electricity.  We now have over 50 functioning turbines across north-west Peru, clustered in geographical areas with up to 15 (and counting) in each area. We need to ensure all these turbines can be properly maintained and we can install new ones as the communities need them (and subsequently maintain those), while continuing with research and development on improving turbine technology. 

These factors, along with the need for the communities to be fully engaged and have autonomy over their energy supply, came together into a new strategy: Community Wind Workshops. These fully outfitted facilities would be built within each cluster area, providing an electronics room, a test turbine for developing technology in real environmental conditions, training facilities for community members, local technicians, and volunteers, and living space for volunteers.  After considering the strategy from all angles, WindAid identified the fishing village of Playa Blanca as the first site for a Community Wind Workshop and set about planning it.  The community set aside some land for us to use, we worked with a university in the UK to design the building with as many green facilities (grey water reuse, composting toilet, roof garden…) as we could identify, and we were all set to go!

But as a non-profit organisation, funding is always a challenge.  We’d never undertaken this kind of project before, and needed an upfront sum to buy the materials to do the build and fit out the workshop.  Crowdfunding is an increasingly popular way for individuals and small organisations to raise money for projects; we investigated and decided to try it out for the Community Wind Workshop.  We chose theKickstarter platform, as although it has a strict rule that you only get the funds if you exceed your target, it has a very structured approach, great support and guidance, and a solid reputation.  ‘Backers‘ pledge a certain amount to get a ‘reward‘, so we carefully picked a whole range of items that backers may like, from a keyring up to a trip out to Peru do a program and see the workshop completed in January 2017.  We researched how to run a crowdfunding campaign and planned to launch on 8 June – it was all systems go, and we sent out a series of teaser messages to get our supporters excited for the start of our energy revolution!

Prepping for the Lima auction fundraiser

Prepping for the Lima auction fundraiser

We started off very strongly, with over $1,000 raised in the first 24 hours.  Pledges came in steadily throughout the whole month, as past volunteers and other contacts signed up to back us.  Kickstarter chose us as a ‘Project We Love’ which attracted interest from regular Kickstarter backers who support projects that catch their eye, and we had great feedback that our story was inspiring people!

We held auctions and sporting polladas (traditional Peruvian BBQ), sent out press releases and ran a competition for who could bring in the most backers, we posted regular updates on our progress on Kickstarter and across social media.  But unfortunately it was not enough…  Of our $35,000 target we got $22,000 of pledges, so we ended up with nothing…  Except actually we ended up with so much more than we could have imagined!

Prepping for the Pollada

Prepping for the Pollada

Not only have we reached out to many new supporters and reconnected with old friends, we had lots of likes and shares on social media – spreading information far and wide about WindAid and our work.  We’ve had articles published in renewable energy and sustainability magazines, and linked with a journalist who writes for a major UK newspaper on sustainability; we’ve learnt a lot about fundraising and marketing in general.  And most important of all, we’ve ended up with around $8,000 (to date) in donations from our hugely generous backers who still wanted to support us outside of Kickstarter.  This is more than we’ve ever raised before, and is enough to continue with the next stage of the build in Playa Blanca!  Plus we had a lot of fun!

photo 3

Local football at the Pollada

Will we do crowdfunding again in the future?  Maybe; it was a big investment of time and energy and there are things we’d do differently if there is a next time.  But given our ambitious plans for future projects like the Community Wind Workshops, we will need dedicated fundraising events.  So watch this space for new projects Lighting up Lives here in Peru!  A huge thank you to all our Kickstarter backers and our many generous supporters – without you our work would not happen!

The Windaid Pollada Football team. June 2016

The Windaid Pollada Football team. June 2016

A first month`s experience  (February 2016)

Posted by Beth Brown on June 17th, 2016

Settling In

My trip to Peru had been planned for months, so it was extremely exciting to land for the first time in South America.  I spent a few days in Lima acclimatizing then got the most luxurious bus I´ve ever taken for the 10 hour journey to Trujillo – reclining wide leather seat, three action movies and a hot lunch, all for under 15 pounds sterling!  The views out the windows were fascinating – varied districts of Lima, huge sand dunes in the desert, the fishing communities living next to the waves crashing onto the coastline, and the sunset over the ocean.

Two of the WindAid team met me from the bus in the famous Beast, and the welcome presentation told me all about WindAid with plenty of opportunity to ask questions.  The four storey volunteer house is in a nice neighbourhood with all amenities – shops, banks, laundry: I quickly felt at home.

Starting Work


During my first month there was another volunteer like me and the WindAid team – a mix of Peruvian and international staff.  As it was a smaller group, we didn’t do a full installation project, instead we visited several sites to do maintenance.  In between, we were in the workshop making a 500W turbine blade from scratch.

I got to do so many things I´ve never done before!  Safely wrapped up in gloves, mask, goggles and very elegant heavy denim overalls, I mixed chemicals, cut fiberglass, prepared moulds, done sealing, gluing, drilling and sanding, even soldering.  All under the watchful eye of Señor Abel and the team.  It’s safe to say I’m more comfortable with a tool kit than ever before!


Although most of the team speaks English, having some Spanish is helpful and there are plenty of opportunities to learn the vocabulary of the workshop and the basics of day to day life.  

Out and About

I´ve done some exploring of the local area including the bustling city markets selling EVERYTHING, the surfing beaches of Huanchaco and Pacasmayo and the archaeological sites of theHuacas del Sol y de la Luna and Chan Chan.  It’s also easy to venture further afield for long weekends; there is so much to see within a few hours.  

  • Cajamarca is a pretty cheese-making hill town with some archaelogical sites nearby.
  • The northern beaches around Màncora have rolling waves perfect for learning or perfecting your surfing.
  • The Cordillera Blanca mountain range has many hiking routes through stunning scenery.

The two maintenance trips were to Huamachuco and Huaraz:


The Democratic School of Huamachuco is following an unusual concept, where the children decide what and how to learn.  There are assistants rather than teachers, who facilitate exploratory play in carpentry, art, reading (on every subject from The Little Prince to Gabriel García Márquez to the Koran) and textiles.  Maths is learnt on table football!  There is a great vibe, all the kids were active, doing something, being creative.

The main school building is now connected to the grid, but they want the turbine ready again to power a new building.  So we removed the turbine to repair and test back in Trujillo.



Our installation is at the Pastoruri glacier, a popular tourist attraction near Huaraz city in the Cordillera Blanca mountains.  We hold a Guinness World Record for the highest turbine in the world at almost 5000m! (to put it in perspective, Mont Blanc in the French Alps is lower at 4810m). Since 2013, the WindAid turbine has been powering a group of wood and tarpaulin huts selling visitors drinks, food and souvenirs.  The huts have now been replaced by proper buildings which don’t yet have the wiring to connect to the turbine.

We retrieved the data logger and electronics, which took a while for a seemingly simple task, and everyone was wet and cold by the end.  Luckily a friendly Señora was on hand with steaming cups of matè tea (from cocoa leaves to help with the altitude).  After, we walked up to the glacier, a stunning sight, plunging down into a black lake dotted with icebergs.  However it has receded significantly in the last few decades – climate change right in front of our eyes…

We saw more evidence of climate change inthe Trujillo suburb ofBuenos Aire.  Just a few years ago it was a popular beach, lined with restaurants.  Due to climate change and a nearby large commercial shipping port, the currents have changed and the beach is totally eroded, replaced by a high stone wall that prevents the few remaining open restaurants and occupied houses being washed away.

Daily Life in Trujillo

A medium sized city, it’s easy to get to know the main routes and neighbourhoods, which are generally safe and well looked after with lots of green spaces.  I have travelled locally by taxi and public buses – both plentiful and cheap.  For longer distances there are many bus services to suit every budget (though you get what you pay for in terms of comfort and leg room).

Although Peru isn’t a “first world” country, it´s not a backwater either.  There are big houses, shiney cars, supermarkets and clothes shops stocking branded goods you’d recognise.  Everyone has a smart phone and wifi is easy to find.

It´s a lively country with noise everywhere – barking dogs, beeping taxis, crowing roosters, latin and folk music blaring, children playing in the streets and parks.  Life is lived on a relaxed “Peru Time”, except when driving, when everyone goes at top speed!


People really appreciate you trying to communicate in Spanish and I´ve found everyone friendly and helpful.

It has been an amazing experience.

Cajamarca Visit – Part 1 of 2

Last week WindAid Institute got back from an amazing trip to Cajamarca! Gean, Lewis, and I spent three extraordinary days visiting communities, planning out wind turbines, and meeting an incredible array of people in the Andes!

We set off from Trujillo on a hot Sunday afternoon by bus only to arrive at the bustling city of Cajamarca six hours later, ravenous and exhilarated. Standing in this city you are nestled in a valley between mountains that seem to emanate with hidden magic in the dying sun. We immediately set off on a nice walk around town, found a great meal at Don Paco just off the town's Plaza day Armas, and settled into what turned out to be a very nice new hostel a few blocks more outside of the Plaza.

We rose with the sun on Monday, and set off in the direction of San Marcos. WindAid has done work in the Cajamarca region before, and we have always been fortunate to be able to have the support of Victor Acosta whenever we do. This trip was no different as Victor happily welcomed us into his house in San Marcos, and we were able to catch up with an old friend and his family including his daughter and their small farm of animals on the roof of the house: chickens, guinnea pigs, and a rabbit!

Victor had arranged for us to visit the much smaller town of San Carlos that same Monday, and we saw the first wind turbine of the trip! Though we would have loved to have stayed longer in San Carlos, we had been invited to stay at Victor's place for the night, and so we made our way back down the hill. Soon enough though, we'll be able to stay longer as we come back in August to service the turbine, and train up the new community technician as to it's use and maintenance!
As Tuesday rolled around, the mountains were transformed from a beautiful vista all around us, to become an integral part of our journey. Leaving before sunrise with our driver Pascual we arrived at the town of Nueva Manzanilla; a small remote village nestled up in the mountains. The kindness of everybody we met on this trip can not be overstated, and that was especially true in Nueva Manzanilla: within an hour of arriving we had been offered two breakfasts, ate one, and stole our amigo Santos away from his days work on his farm to talk about everything we had missed in the months since we last saw him. We of course checked out the town's turbine too, which is also up for servicing in August, and then set off on the days adventure.

Here I will pause to give just a little bit of back story. This was only my second time visiting these villages, and there is a town named Canlle that is inaccessible by car, and for a local an hour or two walk away. From Canlle, you can continue to walk out to the other side of the valley, and catch a completely different road back into the town of San Marcos. I had done the walk with Jessica in the reverse last year, and she and I vividly remember being flabbergasted with how much energy it seems to take hiking around at that altitude. I had been thrilled to get back and tackle that trail again, the only problem being... there isn't really a trail for half of it!
So, Tuesday morning, Lewis, Gean, and myself set off from Nueva Manzanilla with a house at the peak of a hill as our first guiding point. From there the idea was that Santos would run up the hill (we were not to stop, he would catch us), point us in the right direction, and then run back and continue working on his farm. Well, we made it to the house at the top of the hill, and a young man we met on the way up had pointed us in the direction we should continue, and we happily did so. The route had struck me as familiar, so we followed it along until I felt it was time to check our bearings. As Santos had never shown up (perhaps unable to find us), we hiked along to a couple houses, and got pointed a couple different directions until finally running into somebody who had never even heard of our next destination! This, my friends, was an adventure!

It is hard to explain the kind of peace that land and those people give. We had been hiking for only a couple hours, but it was a gorgeous day, and in every valley in that area you can see at least a house or two scattered along the way. The idea of getting lost here isn't something to worry about, it is something in which to revel! You connect with your friends, with yourself, with the earth who continues to give to us all we can possibly take, and more than we sometimes should. Add to that the fact that every single person we met along the way was kind, and though in many respects a little lost, we could not have been enjoying ourselves more.

As the day wore on however, and we kept going deeper into an increasingly unfamiliar valley, I could feel the hike and the altitude taking their toll. We had made it a goal to check in with Canlle, and still be able to make it down to Cajamarca that same evening! Ever optimistic, the sheer expanse of this unexplored mountain range began to dawn on me. We started checking houses with nobody home, and as we got deeper into this valley I began to fear we might have to hike up out of it again, a much more daunting task than the descent we were taking looking for someone to guide us towards Canlle....

Work Hard, Play Hard!

Posted on April 10, 2015 by Nick Warren

At the end of last week WindAid Institute wrapped up an incredible March; A month that stretched even our bounds of what can be accomplished in four weeks! Ashish, Cecilia, and Hang from IBM joined Enrico, Perry, and Lewis to start off the month with a brand new wind turbine in Playa Blanca. Playa Blanca showed us how to celebrate by putting on a Yunza; a tree laden with treats and toys is toppled over as kids dance around in a circle waiting to pounce as the prizes touch ground! We too treated the kids of Playa Blanca to a brand new tradition: Tie-Dye! I am not quite sure how, but I think they managed to keep themselves clean far beyond the norms I would have expected of children and permanent ink. Though I imagine the recurring dips in the sea helped the clean up dramatically. 🙂

As the month continued on we tackled some incredible projects. With the team from IBM we further developed the structure of the WindAid Institute, and an expanded fundraising plan; plus there was the incredible work Lewis and Perry put in overhauling the WindAid Institute inventory program in excel, Gantt diagrams for building turbines in the shop, and a study of the base of the WindAid 1.7 (to name just a few).

Though new excel files, multi-page timelines, and possible fracture propagation in cement are thrilling, I would hate to say so much as to quell curiosity. 😉 Suffice it to say that the Salsa nights at Segovia, and guitar jams at our grill-out to close out the month were well earned!

After an incredible March, and some heart-wrenching goodbyes I will close this post saying thanks to Enrico, Ashish, Cecilia and Hang. Welcome to the family you guys, get back soon!