When we think wind turbine, the first thing that probably comes to mind is a large, three-bladed structure in the middle of nowhere. While this is the most common system for harvesting wind power on a large scale, there are many other options when dealing with small-scale devices. The following video from the Popular Mechanics 2007 “Breakthrough Awards”  describes such a device:
A vibrating belt or “windbelt” forces small magnets to fluctuate. The electromagnetic energy can be translated to electricity to power lamps and other devices like radios that do not require a large amount of power.
The young inventor, Shawn Frayne, is working to produce his windbelts in mass quantities. As the video shows, his invention is very simple, compact, and does not require any materials that are scarce in the United States since the belt is simply Mylar coated taffeta . If distributed to homes in third world countries, the windbelt could deliver free electricity to families that would otherwise go without. Furthermore, if the manufacturers added capacitors to store the energy, it could offset the intermittency of wind and supply electricity on a more consistent basis. Frayne was working on his invention in Haiti, but other countries like Nicaragua have proven to be even more suitable for wind power. With “40 percent of the land area suitable for windmills” in Nicaragua and Mongolia, even more would be suitable for small-scale devices for individual homes .
Sometimes goods and services are even more important than directly sending money. The windbelt is one small idea and may not even be able to provide enough power in the long run, but renewable energy may be the key to advancing third world countries because they are more self-sustainable than other forms of energy. Of the trillions of dollars in the U.S. budget, it could be a helpful investment to devote a larger portion to wind power in places where the technology could transform the nation.