You may have heard of William Kamkwamba, the Malawian teenager who built a wind turbine out of spare bicycle parts and scrap metal and wood. His turbine provided electricity in his home for the first time and allowed them to replace smelly, expensive kerosene lamps
In 2001 his family couldn’t afford the cost to send him to school, but he didn’t let that stop him from teaching himself the basics of electrical engineering out of an old school book and building a wind turbine that powered four lights, two radios, and a cell phone charger. He built his own homemade light switches and circuit breakers and has dabbled in radio transmitters.
Mr. Kamkwamba’s story became well known in 2006 after the internet news mob picked up on the story from a british daily. He was invited to present at TED 2007 and has smartly leveraged his fame to secure funding for 100% of his education. He is currently studying engineering.
Though 22 year old Oklahoman Kevin Harris might not have come from as humble roots as Mr. Kamkwamba, he shares his passion for green DIY hackery. Mr. Harris put together an extremely thorough how-to article on building a $150 wind generator on his website.
Here’s one of his turbine in action.
His turbine produces 50-250 watts, which makes puts its $150 price tag drastically cheaper than solar panels of the same output, even when you factor in the time needed to assemble it; 150 watt solar panels can cost in the neighborhood of $500 – $1,000.
Swing over to his site and check it out– everything on the list is available at your local big box home improvement store, you just have to provide the funds, elbow grease, and a spare weekend.