Topic Area: Wind Electric Water Pumping
Geographic Area: Naima Commune, Morocco
Focal Question: Wind Generated Electricity Project in Naima Commune, Morocco
(1) Bergey Windpower Case Study,
(2) National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Renewables for Sustainable Village Power,
Reviewer: Kristin Fairman, Colby College '99

Water scarcity is an increasing global problem as the world population continues to grow. Many third-world villages find their water resources are limited and the sources that do exist impose significant financial extraction costs that the villages are unable to afford. The water scarcity leads to increased rates of emigration from these villages. The Naima Commune, a residential and agricultural commune in the semi-arid region of northeastern Morocco, found itself suffering from this combination of water scarcity, insufficient funds to pump water and increasing emigration. As villagers emigrated to the Moroccan cities and other villages, Naima Commune lost manpower in its agricultural industry. This manpower loss reduces the productive capabilities of the industry and therefore output fell, harming the economy and food supply in Naima.

An underground freshwater stream flows beneath the settlement of Ain Tolba, in the Naima Commune, and is able to supply water resources to three other local settlements along with Ain Tolba. The water was pumped from the stream with a diesel pump, installed by the Moroccan government, into a storage tank in Ain Tolba. The water pumped from the underground stream in Ain Tolba not only fills the Ain Tolba tank but two other tanks located five kilometers away in opposite directions. A diesel pump at the Dar el Hamra water storage tank pumps water up a hill to a fourth storage tank in the village of Rmilat. Although the government subsidized the installation of the pumps, the day to day costs, such as diesel fuel and maintenance, had to be financed by the villages. With limited financial resources the villages were unable to purchase enough fuel to run the pump for more than two hours each day in the winter and five hours a day in the summer, allowing around 80 percent of the potable drinking water to run into a polluted stream. The villages water demand was around 71 to 119 percent greater then the supply they were able to afford to pump from the underground stream.

When the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) began surveying the Naima Commune for possible uses of renewable energy sources as part of its support package for Morocco's Centre de Developpement des Energies Renouvelables (CDER), they found the Dar el Hamra pump had been broken for several years, forcing the villagers of Rmilat, the village supplied with water by the Dar el Hamra pump, to travel over four kilometers for water. USAID determined that Ain Tolba and Dar el Hamra were prime locations for testing wind powered pumps. Through Naima Commune's wind power energy project, USAID intended to show the possibility of using sustainable energy sources in place of diesel engines for small energy uses and to demonstrate that renewable energy sources could be more cost effective and offer greater reliability than traditional village power sources.

In 1989, two 10-kilowatt wind turbines were installed in the Naima Commune. One turbine replaced the diesel pump at Ain Tolba and the other replaced the diesel pump at Dar el Hamra. The wind turbines were manufactured in the United States and the project cost totaled US$120,000. The project was funded by USAID with local support offered by CDER and the local water department. The wind powered turbines are more expensive to install than a diesel powered pump, but they cost nothing to operate, as there are no diesel expenses, and the maintenance is significantly less then that for a diesel powered pump. The energy cost from a wind powered turbine is roughly between 7 and 20 cents (US$) per kilowatt-hour. The turbines require winds of 4 meters per second to run. The average wind speed in Naima Commune is just above 4 meters per second (American Wind Energy Association). Each wind turbine controls a pump that in Ain Tolba removes the potable water from the underground stream and at Dar el Hamra pumps the water up the hill to the settlement of Rmilat.

The installation of sustainable, wind powered energy sources in Ain Tolba and Dar el Hamra yields the four settlements three times the water they were supplied with by the diesel powered pumps. The amount of water they retrieve from the pumps is greater then their demand for water, enabling the villagers to sell the water for extra revenues to other settlements. The extra revenue generated from the sales of excess water, can be applied towards maintenance costs of the wind turbines when needed. The wind turbines not only generated excess revenue for the settlements but they aided in stabilizing the commune's population, which suffered reductions caused by emigration due to the water scarcity. The consistency of the working wind powered pumps eliminated the villagers wasting precious time hauling water from distant tanks and sources. Studies show that this increase in the villagers' time increases the education level in the village and the village's economic status.

The success of the project in Naima Commune, both physically and financially, has led other settlements to replace their diesel water pumps and in some cases the way in which they generate electricity with wind power. CDER estimates the replication costs, and costs of replacement, of the turbines to be around US$60,000. They predict that the estimated cost will fall by at least 40 percent once wind turbines are produced domestically and do not have to be imported from developed nations.

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