Project Trip January 2015

Wind Energy For Tula/ Ethiopia 13th January - 6th February 2015

Travelling party:

  • Daniel Gaffron, metalwork specialist, from Glashütte, 17. 1. - 6. 2. 2015,
  • Jürgen Reinhardt, retired Engineer from Mockritz 13. 1. - 6. 2. 2015,
  • Dr. Jochen Hahn, Priest, from Rüsseina, 13. 1. - 6. 2. 2015,
  • Dr. Josef Staubach, mathematician / IT-Specialist, from Pesterwitz, 13. 1. - 30. 1. 2015,
  • Helfried Vater, Electrician, from Choren, 17. 1. - 30. 1. 2015,
  • Lutz Mummert, Master of sanitary and heating systems, from Klessig, 17. 1. - 30. 1. 2015,
  • Martin Menzel, Driver, from Bodenbach, 17. 1. - 30. 1. 2015,
  • Marcus Küttner, Mechanical Engineer, from Neukirchen, 17. 1. - 30. 1. 2015,
  • Andreas Zehrfeld, Insurance Broker, from Gleisberg, 17. 1. - 30. 1. 2015,
  • Dirk Schulze, Media Technician / Journalist from Dresden 17. 1. - 30. 1. 2015,

Report breakdown

  1. Project preparations 2014.
  2. Goal of the trip.  
  3. Realization of the project.
    1. First day preparations.
    2. Build-up of the workers camp and nutrition.
    3. Cooperation with the community and  the village population.
    4. The trainee maintenance technicians.
  4. Construction of the total system.
    1. Erecting of the masts and the hanging of the main electrical cable.
    2. The erection of the wind power installation.
    3. The installation of the electro station
    4. The solar installation.
    5. The installation in buildings.
  5. Establishment of workshop and material storage in the electro house.
  6. Specifications and regulations that serve the long-term running of the installation.
    1. Basic charges for electricity users.
    2. Monthly electricity flat-rate payment.
    3. Declaration of utilization. 
    4. Leaflet for electricity users.
    5. Acquisition of the achievement data and maintenance plan for the technicians.
  7. Meetings (children) thank you invitations, Protestant belief, sunrises.
  8. Weather.
  9. Perspectives.
  10. The costs of the project trip 2015 and previous total costs of the project Tula.

1. Project preparation 2014

(see detailed project report for 2014)

From December 2013 to March 2014, our six big transportation crates "rested" in the harbor of Djibouti, for a shocking storage fee of over 1000 Euro, with the motto "A loss is also a trade". None the less, the transportation to Hossana was then organized in March 2014 and the crates were stored in the secure warehouse of the Mekane Yesus church. The bureaucratic expenditure for the duty-free import, paid for by the Mekane Yesus church, was enormous.  

After Easter 2014, we, Christian Preuß and Jochen Hahn from Rüsseina, couldn't resist giving the cargo an on the spot check of contents, in order to secure the progress of our project work planned for 2015. Apart from a few individual transportation damages to solar panels, the entire freight was complete and in order. An insurance case wouldn't have any chance of success. There would only be a shrugging of shoulders in the end. It could admittedly have been much worse. We were very relieved. So, replacement solar panels needed to be made in Addis Ababa, which was not a problem for "solar 23" (Thomas Koepke) in the Mekanisse district, over the course of the year 2014.  

The villagers of Tula were supposed to have plastered the walls of the rebuilt and extended electro house with clay, which should have been taken care of in 2014 during the rain-season, this still needed to be done.

In this respect, the starting conditions for a project trip in 2015 were now auspicious in January 2015.


2. Goals of the project trip

The goal was clear: In the total restricted time of three weeks, to get as far in the construction of the installation, as is possible.

The three headed scout group (Staubach, Reinhadt and Hahn) were to make as many preparations as possible on location, within five days, so that the main work could start as soon as the next group of seven people arrived on the 19. 1. Nine days were anticipated for the main phase of construction.  

One week was planned for the "After-care group" of three men (Reinhardt, Hahn & Gaffron) to instruct the semi-skilled local technicians, in the operation of the installation as well as in how to independently extend the network further, organizing the handing over of the installation to the community as well as managing the de-construction of the workers camp.


3. The Realization of the project

In comparison to other years full of difficulties, we can look back very gratefully on this project trip 2015. Essentially, everything proceeded very effectively and amazingly smoothly.

3.1. First day preparations

The three headed scout group (Staubach, Reinhardt & Hahn) were as planned, able to take care of all the groundwork in just four days:  

  • Taking care of contacts in Addis Ababa (Mekane Yesus church, solar company).  
  • Buying materials in Addis and Hossana (nails and screws, hand tools, wood preventatives building wood, canisters and fuel…)
  • Transportation of the replacement solar panels from Addis to Hossana.  
  • Truck transportation of the entire stored materials from Hossana to Tula.  
  • Tidying of all materials and hand tools in Tula.
  • Start with the construction of the workers camp (tents, table construction).  

Our partner on location, the church Mekane Yesus (in Hossana), was well prepared for our arrival this year. Not only was the organization of the truck transportation to Tula well prepared but also a translator/interpreter was organised. The young plumbing engineer, Lirenso was very competent in the local language, Hadiya. He camped with us in Tula and was available virtually the entire time. We never would have managed a village meeting or the education of the technicians, neither the agreements with the community nor the meeting with our man on the location. Thanks Liranso, thank you Ato Amanuel and Ato Abebe!

The journey to Tula is rather adventurous. The height difference between Hossana and Tula is about 500 meters, which are first accomplished only in the last third of the approximately 18 km long trip. However, there is a normal gravel track as far as Kebele-administrative town Morsito. Then however, narrow paths are the only way. The wood plank bridge was in a desolate condition. The transit of our heavy goods vehicle was quite a risk.

The truck got stuck in a water hole, which we had to fill with stones from the forest before any further journey was possible. There’s no high flying with any vehicle in the raining season here.

3.2. Build-up of the workers camp and nutrition

Due to the need of space (and increase in rat and flee visits), the larger meeting house of our farmer co-op became the store for the material. We slept on the meadow in tents that we had brought with us. The people of Tula were pretty amazed about our "Light weight huts", something they have never seen before.   A big table was built from left-overs of the material transport crates.

Another transportation crate was re-built into a toilet, in which one could sit properly, and with the help of a plastic water barrel, the luxury was completed with a cold shower.

At the same time some group members built several ladders from eucalyptus poles for the cable assembly and the desolate "Chinese wheelbarrows" were bought back to life with a little reinforcement.  

All about food: Also here, there was a certain luxury: Jürgen Reinhardt cooked for the entire group and conjured wonderful and palatable creations from the cans we had bought with us and native fruits. Early in the evening, there was bread with sausage and tinned fish, cheese…. and chocolate, which we had bought with us. Gratefully we accepted the families’ nightly offer, to be able to drink coffee in the main hut in the company of the community and all the animals, around the fire. The coffee was served together with the usual Kollo, roasted wheat or barley corn as well as roasted chick peas.  

We drank water exclusively from the customary mineral water bottles. So, we succeeded in staying relatively diarrhea free over our time there. Almost everyone gets diarrhea once, for one or two days, but that is normal.

3.4. The cooperation with the local authorities and the village population

The difference here compared to the first project location in Debo, Ethiopian highland, was that there the cooperation with the authorities and the people ran rather slowly and unreliably. We had a different experience in Tula. The Mayor and co-workers were engaged with the occasion, spoke openly and regularly about all plans and communicated reliably with the village population. So, that the cutting and preparation of the electricity masts and the digging of holes, was considered completely normal to do under their own initiative. (We had to pay every movement in Debo). In two village meetings and a meeting with the responsible authorities, all questions were dealt with openly and frankly, decisions were made with grass-roots democracy. This related to the laying of the electricity lines, the financial participation of the electricity users, the performance and payment of the technicians as well as daily help required in relation to our work.

Amazingly for us also: Every night, a watch of approximately two or three people was organized for us, who sat the entire night, wrapped only in cloths, in our proximity, in order to give us the feeling of security. 18 families were involved.

3.5. The trainee maintenance technicians

Already in the last year, three young people from Tula, two men, and a woman, completed an introductory course in electro technology at college in Hossana. This course was freshened up and re-started at the end of 2014.

The standard of the three technicians was very different. Luckily there was a dray horse amongst them who pulled the others along.  

With much endurance and dedication Helfried Vater and Lutz Mummert devoted themselves to the further training of the technicians. Even if it sometimes meant investing extra time and effort - the technicians were introduced and shown all possibilities of accruing performances and instructed over and over until they could perform each task independently. This involved the principles of the house installation and the hanging of raised cables. We made a model installation, which could be used to learn at ground level. The training also involved the cable connections, erecting the masts and the construction of the wind power installation. In the electro station, we were able to introduce them to the basic principle of energy conversion and in the additional operation of the Diesel generator. Already after only one week, they were largely capable of installing and connecting a house connection independently. In our absence, they will connect further homes and will take care of and service the installation, as far as they are capable. The experiences of the training, for us and the technicians, were very positive.  

4. The construction of the total system

4. 1. Positioning of the electricity masts and the laying of the main cable

The first question was: Where should the main cable be laid and how can the masts be fixed into the ground?  

Jürgen Reinhardt declared himself the "route wolf" and attended to this task for many days. First, the cable route was to be established: In the company of the mayor, we fought our way through plots and marked each mast position, every 25 meters with spray, so that the residents knew where the masts would be placed. This was easier than we had predicted. Since there is no private land (it’s all civil land on lease) in Ethiopia, there were not any rights of way or land claims to consider either. These worries were completely unnecessary and so each mast in the close proximity of a house could promise a good power supply.  

In less than half an hour, a eucalyptus tree could be chopped down with an ax and de-barked. Here, the dense population of eucalyptus in Tula became apparent to us. After one or two days of drying, the bottom quarter of the mast was handled with wood protector and the suspension for the cable was attached. A small Aluminum foil cap should prevent water penetrating the mast from above. The mast is then banged into the prepared hole.

A problem of durability of the eucalyptus masts presented itself. In the earth-air transition, the wood rots relatively fast. We tried to extend the lifespan with wood-preserving oil and by surrounding the masts in the earth with a type of stone gravel.  

After installing all the masts Daniel Gaffron and Andreas Zehrfeld worked tirelessly for days on end, at the long hard work of unrolling the cable ( 2 isolated conductors AL 35²), hanging the cable onto the masts, tightening and fixing it.  

Needless to say, the main cable route has a total length of 1.750 m.  

4.2. Erecting the wind power installation

After the metal foundation construction was already set in a concrete foundation in 2013 and the mast construction had been produced in 2014 in the Mekane-Yesus-work shop in Addis, the wind turbine could now be completely erected by D. Gaffron, A. Zehrfeld, D. Schulze and J. Hahn. This involved the assembly of the mast, the multiple adjusting and tightening as well as the installation of the entire Turbine head with generator and rotor. Additional welding work was made uncomplicated due to the presence of a powerful diesel generator and a modern feather-light welder. The raising of the wind turbine remained an exciting high point for everyone.

The regularly occurring "Night-wind" really put the wind turbine to the test and made a considerable "Batch of night energy" possible.  

4.3. The installation of the electro station

That was a special challenge: How should our expensive components be secured to only roughly cast clay walls? From experience, we had thought to take screw thread poles and base plates. So it was possible to get everything fixed securely. H. Vater and J. Staubach could install everything which belongs in the E-station within a few days: Large accumulator block, main switchbox, wind power transformer, overload - heat element, transformer and solar power regulator. Now, the wind power installation could be put to the test and… feed power into the accumulators. In the following days, we tested the accumulators’ performance with different electrical equipment. Thanks to his particular programming knowledge, with the help of a lap-top and software, M. Küttner could configure the transformer in a way that much greater power storage is possible.  

4.4. The solar installation

Another challenge: How to attach a solar panel installation onto the wafer-thin corrugated iron roof of the electro house? And this, with two different panel and mounting system types? With a little improvisation and some available wood, L. Mummert and M. Menzel were able to put it together in a few days. The solar roof is only very slightly inclined due to the particular sun position. Between the two panel fields, a wooden board walk was installed in order to be able to clean the panels regularly while standing on the boardwalk. The solar installation has a performance of approximately 3 kW It already starts to work at 7.00 am and despite the sloping angle of the sunlight at 10.00 am it still brings in 1,5… 2kW. And so together with the combination of wind power there should be enough energy produced even in the problematic rainy season.    

4.5.The building connections.

After we had erected our energy station and all the individual components, we ploughed on with the installation of public buildings to begin with, as they are used by the whole village: a Protestant church (Mekane Yesus church, was equipped with an emergency power generator since the distance to the village is too far), four rooms in the school (as requested, two staff rooms and two classrooms), the village administration and the village assembly room.  

After that we were quick to make the first house installations, our technicians were also intensively involved in this. We had to work through trial and error to start with here, which were the best variations for each individual installation, and the clay walls created a special challenge for the technique of securing the power boxes. The commune had decided: each family should have only one lamp and one socket. This is sensible regarding the "one roomed house." The basic principle of the house installation is as follows:

  • From the main village power line, a branch is installed with a 6 amp. circuit breaker box, from this breaker several cable lines can be taken to connect further homes.
  • Over separate masts, two isolated cables (6²) are carried to the house mast and from here the cable runs to the house, entering close to the front door.

In each house, there is a house circuit breaker box with the possibility of more connections and a glass fuse     (250 mA = 60 W maximum performance), this circuit breaker box not only serves as a safeguard against short circuiting for example the danger of fire but it also drastically restricts the consumer consumption. Two cables then lead from a small plastic clip-close box to the lamp and the switch with plug socket. The standard 6W LED-light bulbs are used.

It is touching to experience the joy that is expressed when the lamp is first lit up. We were able to take part in many a dance of joy.

The socket serves the loading of small re-chargeable appliances (mobile phones and later particularly re-chargeable lamps).

During our stay, all the public buildings and a further 20 homes were able to be connected, where by almost 10 of those home connections were exclusively performed by the technicians themselves. This gave us opportunity to make adjustments and corrections and to clarify any outstanding problems. It was absolutely not clear, for example, in which corner a supporting mast must be placed, if the cable was lead off at too great an angle then the additional cables would hang too low. According to our instructions the cable running into the home should run vertically or horizontally in a straight line, suddenly cables were being hung diagonally across rooms and walls (why put in a corner, when I need less cable for a diagonal?) Never the less the technicians got the idea in the end and were able to put our instructions into motion very quickly.


5. Establishment of workshop and storage of materials in the electro house

Shortly before our departure, we couldn't resist leaving the 3 technicians an orderly and tidy store room as well as an orderly and tidy workbench, an orderly sorted tool board, clean vice and grinding machine. We carried out an inventory with the Mayor. This way, we give the technicians an area in the hand, in which they can have the feeling: this is our central area of responsibility. Here, everything is tidy, sorted and focused on that which is necessary for the further extension of the installation.  


6. Specifications and regulations that will serve the long-term running of the installation

Before we left Tula we wanted to regulate as much as possible with the view of a well-organized business. This related to the following questions, which had been discussed in previous village meetings:

6.1. Basic fee for electricity users

After the motto "What doesn't cost anything, is not worth anything." the village followed our suggestion, that a one off initial connection fee of 100 Birr (=4,30 Euro), should be paid into the village electricity fund.  

6.2. Monthly electricity flat-rate payment

For a durable business, it is necessary that each electricity user pays a lump-sum contribution. Here, the village also followed our suggestion, a charge of a user flat-rate of 20 Birr (= 0,86 Euro) per month, per connection. If one assumes that in perspective, approximately 120 homes are connected, yielding a total monthly income of approximately 100 €. With this the maintenance technicians can be paid for the work they are performing additionally to their normal job and there would be money left over to build up a store of diesel and spare-parts, for example.


6.3. Consumer declaration

Each electricity user must sign a consumer agreement that regulates the financial participation, as well as questions about energy consumption (limitation of small appliances) and the relationship of technicians to repairs. Extra repairs in the house must also be paid for separately. We also had this agreement translated by the translator Lirenso and by the time we left it was type scripted and copied in the Amharic language.

6.4. Leaflet for electricity users

For each electricity-using family, we wrote a small safety leaflet that was translated into the village language, typed and copied. This contains guidelines about ways of efficiently saving energy and the safe use of sockets and lamps.

6.5. Acquisition of the performance data and maintenance plan for the technicians

A pre-printed maintenance plan helps the technicians to make a weekly recording of the following data. Wind performance, yield of the wind turbine, yield of the solar installation and village electricity consumption.

More importantly the technicians are reminded at the end of the monthly page:

  • Re-charge the re-chargeable drill
  • Start the diesel generator (to charge up the starter battery)
  • Unwind the cable in the wind turbine mast.
  • Clean the solar panels


7. Meetings

This is one of the most important experiences of our project work: You cannot just "plough on through" a project without making time for the people. This is not always simple. Usually due to our time restrictions we are under a lot of pressure to fit everything in. Nevertheless, the meetings with the people are something incredibly important and beautiful, not only regarding the realization of the project. Our simple existence in the village, living in tents participating in the nightly assembly, lets trust grow very fast and helps create a good bond together. The keyword "encounter" should have room for many different impressions.

7.1. Children

Over and over again it is a joy to look into the children’s faces. The children here in Tula are certainly more reserved than those in our first project village of Debo in the Ethiopian highlands. Yet still they got quite close to us, looking at us, watching, bashfully laughing if one joked with them, grabbing hold of the wheelbarrow and helping without many words, sometimes for hours. And strikingly however there were also many younger children with siblings on their backs.

7.2. Gele-t-omo and thank you invitations

Essentially a touching thought and quite dearly meant: "You are invited". Either a person from the authorities or a private family who would like to say, thanks. However we are right in the middle of the stress, and only have restricted time. So, it is diplomatically necessary to find a favorable short date or to send a small delegation. There is Kollo (roasted grains as well as chickpeas) or Kotcho (baked mash from the root of the wrong banana tree) and because the people in Tula are aware, that the Germans like to drink beer, there is simply also beer available alongside Soft drinks. The people in Tula also tried a little themselves. They want to say thanks. We often heard it: Gele-t-omo - thanks!

7.3. Being an Evangelical Christian

In Tula, there are three Protestant churches each of slightly different character. They understand each other well. What we noticed in the church services: A great liveliness and hospitality. What absolutely astonished us: after the three Sundays, we still couldn't work out who the priest was. The reason: The cooperation of the Church community and other parishioners was so great that the priest had only a relatively small part in the composition of the service. Church members held (pretty long) prayers, some announcements, readings, and sang songs (which were accompanied by guitar and drums). This lively belief seems to affect the whole mood of the village very positively.

7.4. Beautiful sunrises

This is also an important part of the "contact" on the Tula Levels: Impressive Sunrises and Sunsets. In the evening it is the reflection of the hot day, in the morning, a merciful sign of the bright new day at the end of a blustery night.

8. Weather

The dry season in January / February appears to be very suitable for the realization of such an on location project, since rain can almost be non-existent. However, it is not the warmest time. For the first three days, it was mostly cloudy, which due to lack of sunrays and wind had a negative effect for us. The remaining days always followed a similar weather course:  

  • after sunrise 6.30/7.00 am, the wind eased slowly; Chilly
  • during the day very sunny, a slight breeze, 20 - 25° C

- after sunset, the temperature falls rapidly, in the night to 11 ..13°C; the wind starts up, which develops into a storm at night, (speeds of up to 16,8 mph).  

9. Perspectives

It became very clear in the conversation with leading representatives of the Mekane Yesus Church that our project had a great importance in multiple ways. For the foreign aid department of the church (DASSC), a wind solar installation is a step into new technical realms. Moreover, the church is very much responsible to the state in presenting current well run new projects and also in order to get the licence in the future for duty free import.

The regional government in Hossana also pursues this project with interest since alternative energy concepts are increasingly coming into view also in Ethiopia. Some delegation will presumably be making their way to Tula. Therefore we will remain in Tula and will stabilize this project and will consider the development carefully. After our experiences of this year the preconditions for this appear to be very good.

In February / March 2015 the technicians will connect a further 20 homes with the existing materials. So that all homes within visibility of the main cable, up to the end at the school will be connected (approximately 40 homes).

By 2016 we want to have preferably 100 homes connected. Therefore we are planning another similar action project in January / February 2016. Then, most families should have light in the village.

Only then can we assess how much energy will be produced or more to the point how much energy will be used.  

Still, we have passed some advice on to the Village Elders. An idea: The creation of a small service center in the grounds of the Kebele-administration: A small store, in which one can buy electrical appliances (re-chargeable lamps, replacement lamps, batteries…), and attached to that a small service workshop. However we didn't just want to convert this idea ourselves. We will simply wait for the village community to take independent action in this case. We will gladly give them all the support they need when they are ready.

Whether we can offer a very remote part of the village (1 km down into the valley) a separate solution, is still to be further considered. To lay a 1 km long cable for the sake of approximately 15 house connections is not really financially feasible. Maybe building a small separate solar powered power station in the village is a better idea (Solar panel, accumulator battery and transformer). Then the villagers can charge-up small re-chargeable electrical units.

10. The costs of the project trip 2015 and previous costs of the project Tula

The costs of this year's project trip amounted to 8.500 Euro. Included in this are the tools and machinery obtained in advance, electronics, 10 solar panels, public relations, all transport costs in Ethiopia, incl.: Jeep rental, Truck transport, transfer costs, fuel, wages (translators, helpers…), hotel costs in Addis and Hossana, many tools and materials, power cables and starter funds for the electricity Kitti Tula…

The flights were paid for, as always, privately by the individual project participants who also took holiday time from their work at home. Thanks to all project participants! The project could not be financed otherwise.

The previous costs for the total project of Tula (2011-2015) amounted to 43.500 Euro.  

Until now, all expenditures could be covered by donations! That is like a miracle. A cordial thanks to all that have previously financially contributed to the present stage of success in this project!

Whoever would like to support us farther financially can do so:

Windenergie Äthiopien e. V.

IBAN DE81 350 601 901 600 076 015



As nonprofit-making society, we of course supply donation certificates. Therefore we require the complete information about your name and address on the bank transfer.

gez. J. Hahn, 11. 3. 2015

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