Local man builds wind generator for eco-home

2011-04-15 00:00

A MECHANICAL engineer working in Pietermaritzburg, Fred Cooper, has designed and built a wind generator for a friend’s house in Grahamstown, which they hope will be independent of Eskom power.

Cooper (37) said he is excited about the innovation.

The idea came about when he visited his friend and realised how expensive it was going to be for Eskom to install electricity at her subdivided crop farm. He decided to build

He will install the wind turbine officially next week.

“It was going cost a lot of money to install power in the house and then we thought that the renewable process will be better,” Cooper explained.

He said it took him 15 months to design the generator, including research and construction, and he has spent around R8 000.

“I spent a lot of time in workshops and got some help from other people, but I did 80% of the work on my own,” he said.

Cooper works for Pressure Die Casting (PDC), a manufacturing company in Pietermaritzburg.

The managing director of PDC, Mike Wolhuter, said, “Fred is one of our smart and innovative engineers who work on energy savings and process design improvements. He is one guy who is constantly pushing the boundary for learning and implementing radical and new ideas. We need more of these practical engineers in the industry.”

Said Cooper: “There are a lot of people in the rural areas who cannot afford electricity, and solar water and wind power is more sensible because this is the future and where the world is directed to.”

He graduated in 2002 with a masters degree in mechanical engineering in from the University of KwaZulu-Natal.

The wind generator is made out of car parts and will run a 12-volt battery system.

Cooper’s friend, Lausanne Olvitt (39), who is a lecturer in environmental education at Rhodes University, said the wind turbine will mean her house, which is built of straw and clay, won’t be connected to the national grid.

She said, “Wind-generated electricity is free. I can leave the lights on and I know that I’m not wasting anything compared to the electricity that’s made out of coal. I’m so glad that I’ll be making my ecological footprint smaller.”

Cooper said it is rewarding to create something useful that will contribute to the environment, albeit in a small way.

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