When we first started our search for a wind turbine, the African Wind Power (AWP) 3.6 was at the top of the list. However, as we began to inquire about one, we quickly found there were no more AWP turbines for purchase in the U.S.
There was one encouraging rumor circulating in the wind energy community. The whispers were saying that Abundant Renewable Energy, the distributor for the African Wind Power products, was planning to redesign the AWP 3.6 and release a Made in the USA machine. This eventually became what was the ARE 110, now the XZERES 110.
In the meantime African Wind Power fell of the radar of most people and it was assumed that they had met their demise. Interestingly this was not to be the case. AWP is still in business today. They are making a turbine that looks like the old AWP 3.6 but with very different specs. To this date, they do not have a distributor or marketing presence in the U.S.
African Wind Power is currently producing the AWP 3.7 (3.7 referring to the rotor diameter in meters). They are located in Johannesburg, South Africa. There was always a cloud of poor quality assurance following the AWP 3.6 but they were good energy producers. Even with the problems, many comments you find about them are still relatively positive. Some owners seem content to make the necessary repairs and upgrades to keep their machine in operation. The AWP 3.7 model is simply described as an improved 3.6. We would hope that improved means better construction.
The information presented by the company is a bit unremarkable and rather sketchy in some areas. The specification chart for the turbine is a good example. The construction and dimensional aspects for the 3.7 differ from the old AWP 3.6 but the energy output charts for the AWP 3.6 are still being referenced.
While the 3.7 turbine is similar in looks to the 3.6, there are notable differences. The 3.6 sported a much lower 350 rpm rotor speed while the 3.7 lists 500 rpm. The 3.6 weighted in at 250 pounds while a diet took the new model down to 220 pounds.
There are several other item listed as improvements.
- Glass Reinforced Plastic Composite Blades.
- Higher output alternator 2000 watts grid connect.
- Improved blade profile and finish for higher efficiency.
- Heavy duty slip ring equipped yaw head.
- Marine version Hot Dip Galvanized.
- Maintenance free sealed yaw bearings, nylon tail bushes.
- New controller design – turbine side dumping.
- Improved shipping crate design.
Turbines with rotor diameters of 2.4, 5.4 and 7.2 meters are under development also. We will post updated information as it becomes available.
Our Point of View
It would be hard to get excited about a fairly basic wind turbine if the company producing it was new and produced a fairly basic machine. Though it may seem that way with African Wind Power they are not a new company. Indeed, we do not know of any installations of a new AWP 3.7 in the U.S., but the company does have a history.
The African Wind Power company has a mixed history laced with diverse opinions. It is also one where not all ends well. The AWP 3.6 being manufactured in Zimbabwe seemed to have all the traits of a tough, reliable wind turbine. And so it did, if you happened to get one built on the right day. It was heavy, slow turning, quiet and had a reputation for reliability in tough climate conditions.
However, the sad fact for the U.S. market was that product availability, warranty and quality control issues plagued the popular African machine. This lead the distributor to eventually discontinue sales. Though there were many issues, mainly as a result of sloppy construction, the overall design made the AWP 3.6 a solid turbine once repaired.
The re-made African Wind Power company is now located in Johannesburg, South Africa. We really hope they have improved the manufacturing process and can supply a machine that will work properly right out of the box. The only drawback we have seen so far is that they are having to spin the alternator much faster to get the same power out of it. The new AWP 3.7 may end up not being the old and slow 3.6 in a new and improved body.
Although it doesn’t really seem to be a step in the right direction we will reserve our final judgment until a turbine becomes available for study. But, if the pricing is comparable to the AWP 3.6 and they have a handle on quality control, it should be a far better value over the highly marketed, lightweight machines produced and sold in the U.S.
AWP is going to have to get off of the bench if they want to stay in the game. Currently there doesn’t seem to have been anything new out of the company over the last year. This does not bode well for them in light of the current crop of new turbines showing up. Kestrel is doing a good job of establishing its presence and other companies such as Raum are attempting to roll into the marketplace with force. We can only wonder if the day of the African has come to an end.
- Furling* (In our opinion furling is a justified by the low price)
- Company located over seas
What Other Visitors Have Said
Click below to see contributions from other visitors to this page…
Indestructable AWP 3.6 Not rated yet
There is a AWP 3.6 installed on a farm I am working on this year (2015). I understand that this turbine has been in operation since about 2000. The turbine …
Tom h Not rated yet
We have 2 awp 3.6 turbines…overall pretty durable though the newer one is Now 11 years old and needing repairs…anyone have controller schematic or …
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