An Argentine NGO is building wind turbines to generate power for rural schools and homes. The group believes that turbines are an ideal alternative to the gasoline-powered generators commonly used in many rural communities, and they're working hard to spread the word. Rob Muir reports.
Esteban Van Dam is teaching students how to build a wind turbine. As co-founder of NGO, 500 RPM, he wants the many Argentines who live off the electrical grid to know that there's a clean and efficient alternative to the gas-powered generators most are now using for their electricity. (SOUNDBITE) ESTEBAN VAN DAM, ENGINEER AND 500 RPM NGO CO-FOUNDER, SAYING: "There are many areas where this kind of technology is ideal because the only alternative is a generator and when you begin to compare costs - because it isn't just an environmental issue, it is also an economic issue - you see the costs to install one of these wind turbines versus the costs of putting fuel in a generator every day and you realize that in two or three years you recover your investment so it's economically attractive." And its cleaner than the natural gas fired thermal plants that produce most of Argentina's electricity. The turbines produce enough energy to charge four 12 volt batteries that can be used to run basic household appliances, with a gas powered generator providing back-up power during periods of low wind. As a result, NGO co-founder Luciana Proietti says only five percent of the fuel normally used by a generator is required on average, making it cheaper and cleaner. . (SOUNDBITE) LUCIANA PROIETTI, 500 RPM CO-FOUNDER, SAYING: "Bringing renewable technology directly diminishes greenhouse emissions. The communities where we work and rural schools in general save a lot of money and emissions thanks to the wind turbine." So far, 500 RPM has wind projects running in ten communities throughout rural Argentina, but they say they've only just begun and their counting on their students with their newly acquired skills, to go out and spread the word.