Wind energy for Sagar Island
Jan Imhoff (40) lived
as a boy in Auroville, later worked as a civil engineer in Germany. He
served on several of Auroville's committees, then started Auroville
Energy Products - Wind Section.
Sagar Island is one of the
largest islands in the Sunderban delta of the Bay of Bengal, about 150
km South of Calcutta, in the mouth of the river Ganges. Its total area
is around 300 sq kms, and it has a population of more than 150,000
people spread over 16 villages. Rich in mangrove swamps, waterways and
small rivers, it is also home to the endangered Royal Bengal Tiger. Like
its neighbours, it has no connection to grid power supply. The
inhabitants depend on six twenty-year-old diesel generators to provide
power between four to six hours each day. To mitigate the energy crises,
a number of solar photovoltaic power plants have come up.
"The living conditions
on that island are really marginal," says Jan, who, as executive of
Auroville Energy Products - Wind Section worked for four years to
realise the Wind-Diesel Project on Sagar Island. "There is farming
and fisheries, and very little else. Without electricity, not even small
industries can develop. A ferry to the mainland serves to get their
products to the Calcutta markets.
The Sagar Island Wind-Diesel
Project consists of 10 wind generators of 50 kilowatts capacity each,
two 180 kVA diesel generators and a controlling system. "Phase one
of the project consists of two wind generators and the controller,"
says Jan. "Atlantic Orient Canada will supply the two wind
generators. These two windmills will generate an average of about 30
kilowatts, sufficient for a small village. If they perform well, the
second phase of the project will start and we will erect the remaining 8
windmills. The agreement with the Canadians specifies a technology
transfer. For phase 2 of the project, we will manufacture the generators
in India, which leaves only the gearboxes, the blades and the controller
to come from Canada. Gradually we want also to manufacture those
components locally. After the entire project is commissioned, our unit
will for two years be responsible for operation and maintenance."