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Finding the niche: A review of market assessment methodologies for rural electrification with small scale wind power

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journal contribution
posted on 08.09.2020, 09:02 by Jon Leary, Magdalena Czyrnek-Deletre, Alfie Alsop, Aran Eales, Lal Marandin, Madis Org, Mathias Craig, Willington Ortiz, Christian Casillas, Jon Persson, Carmen Dienst, Ed BrownEd Brown, Aidan While, Jon Cloke, Kostas Latoufis
The mass roll out of solar PV across the Global South has enabled electricity access for millions of people. In the right context, Small Wind Turbines (SWTs) can be complementary, offering the potential to generate at times of low solar resource (night, monsoon season, winter, etc.) and increasing the proportion of the total energy system that can be manufactured locally. However, many contextual factors critically affect the viability of the technology, such as the extreme variability in the wind resource itself and the local availability of technical support. Therefore, performing a detailed market analysis in each new context is much more important. The Wind Empowerment Market Assessment Methodology (WEMAM) is a multi-scalar, transdisciplinary methodology for identifying the niche contexts where small wind can make a valuable contribution to rural electrification. This paper aims to inform the development of WEMAM with a critical review of existing market assessment methodologies. By breaking down WEMAM into its component parts, reflecting upon its practical applications to date and drawing upon insights from the literature, opportunities where it could continue to evolve are highlighted. Key opportunities include shifting the focus towards development outcomes; creating community archetypes; localised studies in high potential regions; scenario modelling and MCDA ranking of proposed interventions; participatory market mapping; and applying socio-technical transitions theory to understand how the small wind niche can break through into the mainstream.


The implementation of WEMAM in Nicaragua, Ethiopia and Malawi was funded by Green Empowerment and WISIONS; USAID and Mercy Corps; and the Scottish Government (respectively).

EIT Climate KIC's Pioneers into Practice programme.

UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).

PhD scholarship at the E-Futures DTC (EP/G037477/1).

Doctoral Prize Fellowship (EP/L505055/1).

LCEDN USES Programme Network at Loughborough University (EPSRC Project EP/L014858/1).

PhD scholarship at the Wind Energy Systems DTC (EP/G037728/1).



  • Social Sciences and Humanities


  • Geography and Environment

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Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews






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© The Authors

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This is an Open Access Article. It is published by Elsevier under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Licence (CC BY). Full details of this licence are available at: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

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Dr Jon Leary. Deposit date: 6 September 2020

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