Argentinian duo empowers remote communities to build low-cost open patent wind turbines to generate sustainable, affordable, reliable energy.
Hugh Pigott, a Scottish wind power designer, is the creator of the Piggott Wind Turbine, an open source, self-built windmill. In 2009, Argentinians Esteban Van Dam, an industrial engineer and Luciana Proietti, an anthropologist, encountered Hugh’s design and inspiration struck.
The Piggott Wind Turbine is in wide use around the world and has been utilized in various applications by more than 50 organizations in 30 countries across four continents. At a workshop hosted by a non-profit organization, BlueEnergy, on the Caribbean Coast of Nicaragua, Esteban and Luciana learned how to build and repair them, and how this knowledge was then shared with communities.
They decided to return to Argentina with these learnings to create their own NGO considering the energy requirements of Argentina and its incredible wind energy potential. Esteban traveled to Ireland to learn from Hugh himself. He asked him a ton of questions, then Esteban and Luciana made a wind turbine on their own to fully grasp the technology.
“From then on, the idea was to do the same as Hugh has done, to disseminate the information through technology transfer and focus on rural development,” says Luciana. “The name 500Rpm is a wordplay between the revolutions per minute of a wind turbine when it reaches its maximum power and this revolutionary technology, since anyone can learn how to build a wind turbine.”
The Piggott Wind Turbine, with 30 years of improvements and designed under the principles of self-building, simplicity and durability, requires very little maintenance and is ideal for installation in isolated places where there is no standard electricity grid.
This wind turbine has a horizontal axis, three blades, and can be manufactured in six different nominal powers, ranging from 200 to 1,000W, and in three operating voltages of 12V, 24V and 48V.
Esteban and Luciana’s organization, 500Rpm, has expanded gradually since they first learned about the wind turbine in 2009, and it now includes 12 people who work on project training and implementation. So far, 500Rpm has taught around 100 courses and developed more than 30 projects in 12 Argentine provinces, fabricated more than 60 wind turbines, trained more than 2,500 people and helped more than 1,000 people benefit from clean electricity.
500Rpm is focused on sharing practical and theoretical knowledge about one of the most widely used open-source self-built wind turbines in the world.