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Sep 2001

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.


Windmill at the Atlantic Wind Test Site,  Sagar Island.

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."

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