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Alternative energy solutions come to the fore

Olympia Shilpa Gerald
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Initiative to spread the work on solar, wind power and waste management systems

The motors used in these tools have been modified to cut down energy consumption. — Photo: T. Singaravelou
The motors used in these tools have been modified to cut down energy consumption. — Photo: T. Singaravelou

Can you use a traditional wood stove and yet cut down on fuel and health hazards? Should you think of setting up a wind turbine on your rooftop to make up for power cuts? Can you switch from electric to solar power in gadgets like wet grinders?

Answers to these questions along with a range of alternative energy solutions in domestic and industrial set up are showcased at a renewable energy solutions exhibition that opened this week. The exhibition has been organsied to educate people on various alternative energy solutions available, says Twinkle Gupta, coordinator.

“There is little awareness about solar power in the Union Territory,” observes an official from Renewable Energy Agency Puducherry (REAP), the State nodal agency under the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy. REAP has organsied the exhibition along with ANGIRAS, the Indian network of alumni who have studied various renewable energy courses in Germany.

The Mahatma Gandhi Institute for Rural Industrialisation, Wardha, Maharashtra, has exhibited a few prototypes of various solar powered gadgets, including solar coolers and wet grinders for domestic use. Solar powered pottery wheel which consumes 60 watts, low-cost packaging machines and power looms that can produce similar results for 250 watts instead of traditional one horsepower have been developed with an eye on reducing costs incurred by rural industries.

“We have modified the motors used in these tools to cut down energy consumption. The prototype of the powerloom has been demonstrated in mills at Tirurpur, Palladam and Karur, ”says K. Ravikumar, deputy director of the institute. Though these products are yet to the hit the market, they are likely to in a year, following procedural government clearances.

An Auroville-based company teaches teens and college kids to set up wind turbines to generate energy. “Wind turbines are particularly effective if installed near the beach,” notes Jorg from Minvayu.

“But, it is preferable to use a hybrid of solar panels and wind turbines which is more reliable and helps to supplement power during long power outs and monsoons.” The enterprise has designed wind turbines in the capacity ranging between 100 watts to 2.5 kilowatts.

Wood stoves are still used for preparing food in community initiatives and mass feeding programmes. High-end wood stoves by a private enterprise promise to fulfil the roles but additionally minimise fuel and do away with wood smoke which is hazardous to health, by collecting ash in a separate tray.

Solar heaters, cookers, power plants, solar energy monitors, computer controlled lighting designer lights made from recycled material like bottles, LED lights are also exhibited. Vermicomposting in pots, biogas plants, rainwater harvesting, treatment of grey water and other waste management projects by various enterprises, including Karantaka’s Biofuel Development Board provide ecological solutions.

A couple of engineering colleges, including Christ College and Manakula Vinayagar Engineering College have demonstrated models of self-recharging e-bike, solar refrigerators. A ramp or a proper set of steps leading to the entrance could have been set up to ensure senior citizens and differently abled find it easily accessible.

The expo is on till October 13 at Gandhi Thidial, adjacent to Nehru statute from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m.


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