A wind turbine? I mean that fits with the environmentalist part of this blog but Izzy don’t you normally talk fashion?

What some of you who have been reading here for a while (or definitely not if you’re new here) may not know is that I actually work part time in community energy and have a degree in Renewables.

A couple months back with work I visited Cwm Arian Renwable Energy and visited their wind turbine, their new “Y Stiwdio”, and heard about a lot of the work they were doing, including the fact that there was a wind turbine building course, run by V3 Power, coming up soon and I was like “yes please sign me up”. And now I am here to tell you about it.

Oh I also took my mum with me because she loves a practical course like this and she's had much more practice with the practicalities than I had.

Left to right: Izzy Hand Carving the blade, the recipe book used for this course, putting the turbine blades together.
The Course

If you’re interested in the logistics. This weekend followed A wind turbine recipe book by Hugh Piggon to make a Piggot machine with the following specs:

-        Blade Diameter: 1.8m, Cedar

-        Rated Power: 350W @11.5m/s

-        Stator Voltage: 48V

-        6 coils, 8 magnets

This was a turbine we made collaboratively in the course, with some components (provided they were high enough quality) going off to V3 customers to actually be used to generate electricity.

Each morning started with 30 mins – an hour of theory on everything from blade design, to the basics of electricity generation, to how and why we are making the turbine in the way we are, to placement and mounting, circuit design, basically the basis of what you’d want to know if you were going to build one and put it up yourself.

Parts of this really made me feel like I was back in uni, and other parts were pretty new. But all of it was really well explained and you wouldn’t need the background I had at all to follow it, I had a few lightbulb moments where stuff I had just gone “that’s a thing” I now understand why they are a thing.

But the rest of the time was all hands on! It was a very practical weekend.

left to right: pouring resin for the coils, a bunch of recommended books on designing and building renewables, putting the coils in place.

The bulk of it was taken up by hand carving a blade out of cedar wood. Yes this was the first time I had ever hand carved, no I did not have the muscles to hand carve, and on the second day got a little bored of the carving element and let my mum finish our blade while I concentrated on some of the other things needed to put this together. Which included:

  • Hand winding the 6 copper coils, each with 220 turns (this was a long process)
  • setting the coils in resin
  • mapping out and making a template for the magnet placement
  • soldering
  • calculating the measurements for a cutting out the screws to hold the turbine together
  • other things I have forgotten we did.

 If you don’t like carving, sawing, drilling, and generally getting pretty hands on then this probably isn’t the course for you. But for me actually seeing and having a hand in putting together all of the components to make this small wind turbine really helped to cement a lot of the theory I have in my mind about wind turbines, which is definitely valuable and worthwhile for the work that I do. Plus I got to do a lot of sawing and carving and other things I definitely don’t do in my daily life normally.

And hey it things go wrong societally and I ever need to survive off grid I do have some knowledge on how to put together a turbine. There’s some hope of electricity there. Next up I’ll do a solar course so I’ve got my bases covered.


left to right: learning about circuitry for this turbine, soldering components.

Will I be building my own?

Not any time soon.

Firstly because I live in the middle of a city in a shared, rented, house and I don’t have anywhere to put a turbine.

Secondly because although this course did show me how to build a turbine and I’m sure I could buy Pigotts recipe book and follow it quite well now. It is a lot of work, we did it between the 9 or so of us in two days but on my own? Whew it would take me a while and I can see easy ways I would make mistakes without an expert on hand.

I think if I was wanting a small turbine in future, personally, I might buy it in modular components, or make parts and buy others, but that’s just me.

Other people on the course were carpenters and tree surgeons and already did a lot of hands on stuff, with a few of them owning small holdings and really looking to build a wind turbine in the near future.

Interested in a course?

V3 power run a range of different courses, not just the Hugh Piggot wind turbine course I did, though their website isn’t very up to date so it may be worth emailing to see where/when they’re running any soon.

Y Stiwdio run a range of different classes and workshops regularly too if you’re near Hermon and want to get hands on in a beautiful space.