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LCEF Investee WindAid receives Guinness World Record for the highest altitude wind generator

20 May 2015

The ERM Foundation’s Low Carbon Enterprise Fund investee WindAid now holds the Guinness World Record for the Highest Altitude Wind Generator. Officially certified this month by Guinness, the turbine provides electricity to the community near the shrinking Peruvian glacier of Pastoruri at 4,877m (16,000ft) above sea level. The remarkable project saw all involved put to the test fabricating and installing the 2,500W wind generator system to provide light and power to the people of Pastoruri, and is growing into long-term sustainability projects for the Catac community in the Peruvian Andes. 

The village survives on income from selling local crafts, drinks and meals to tourists who come to hike up one of the few remaining and most accessible glaciers in Peru. The glacier has receded over 22% since the 1980s, putting the residents of Pastoruri in a tough spot. As the glacier has retreated, so to the number of visitors has dropped to a third of the number that they received in the 1990s, as only some tourists are interested in viewing the effects of climate change up close. As a result, villagers have been struggling to make ends meet, and as the village is too far from the national electricity network to have a connection, it was without any alternative but to power their businesses and homes with expensive gasoline powered generators – if at all. 

“This Guinness World Record installation would have been unachievable without the support of the ERM Low Carbon Enterprise Fund,” said Nick Warren, Director of WindAid Institute. “From helping to develop the idea, to contributing directly, and providing expertise on how best to approach promoting and organizing the event, WindAid and especially the people of Pastoruri continue to directly benefit from the support of the ERM LCEF team.”

More than 50 wind turbines have been built and installed by the international WindAid team with their volunteers. Usually WindAid donates the generators to off-grid rural communities for use in schools and town halls so that all neighboring farmers and families can access and benefit from the power. Electricity can ultimately change the lives of and offer new opportunities to the residents of impoverished and isolated villages in Peru. Heaters and lighting are used for studying or crafting at night, refrigerators to preserve food, and electrical outlets to plug in radios and cellular telephones to hear the news from and connect to the rest of the country.

Climate change has left this community with incredible need for access to clean, reliable energy to help them live better in this austerely beautiful part of the world. The interaction with the turbine has empowered Catac to expand into a variety of sustainably focused projects including a museum dedicated to educating people about the dramatic effects of climate change through a, and further installations with WindAid, to improve the lives of those in the region with no access to conventional electricity, just like those in Pastoruri.

For more information contact Mark Fraser, mark.fraser@erm.com, who mentors the venture from ERM’s Lima office, or David Sher, david.sher@erm.com Investment Director of the LCEF, in London.

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