Sun, wind and water
One fine day on the red roads of Auroville...
Cycles driving quietly under the bright sun, no air-pestering exhaust
fumes, no ear-disturbing motor noises, just plain pleasure without diesel
and dust. A dream? Unfortunately, yes, these images are still fantasy
in the day to day streetlife of the City of Dawn. Auroville is still
full of disturbing motorbikes, buses, trucks and taxis. But quite a
few Aurovilians are dreaming and planning, and one man in particular:
Carsten Michelsen, born in Germany, living in Auroville since 1993.
Having studied and worked in the electronics field, Carsten has used
his wide expertise to create his own ecological niche here in the future
city, open to experiments in all sorts of research in renewable energy
Starting at CSR
Carsten is a kind of 'Daniel Düsentrieb', an inventor
and self-made man who believes in better days and tries to make his
dreams for a healthy environment - using only natural resources - come
true. Starting work at CSR (Centre for Scientific Research) during his
Newcomer period, he functioned as a consultant for renewable energy,
providing technical assistance to various Auroville projects in the
field of photovoltaic, solar, thermal and biogas systems.
One day, a visitor representing a German NGO involved
in promotion of sustainable development came with a project in his hands
to set up a solar lamp assembly workshop in Auroville. Carsten felt
that the time was ripe to now start on his own, and 'Auroville
Energy Products' (AEP) was born in 1996.
AEP started with an assembly kit of 100 solar lamps
plus a toolset, which had been the donation in kind to Auroville from
a local government ministry in Germany. These useful little solar lamps
were sold and rented out quite quickly in this region of frequent power
cuts. AEP, meanwhile equipped with all necessary licenses for a commercial
unit, then had to import more solar lamp assembly kits and increase
the workshop in terms of space and manpower. The lamps continue to be
assembled, and are presently being commercially distributed around India.
Meanwhile the AEP product range has grown to include solar charge controllers
and inverters to provide a complete solution for solar home systems.
Wind and water
Carsten's partner is another German Aurovilian,
Jan Imhoff, a civil engineer by background. Jan is responsible for the
stormy side of the company. He is the main architect of wind energy
systems, inside and outside Auroville. Current projects include design,
supply and erection of wind-diesel hybrid systems for the Sagar Islands
of West Bengal, and Kavaratti and Agatti of Lakshadweep Islands.
When it comes to water supply systems, AEP collaborates
with other project holders to help villages in places like south Orissa
establish their own micro-hydro system. More important projects have
been and will be undertaken.
In his free time Carsten is engaged in another field
of activity: the solar electric bicycle project. There are currently
three prototypes up and running, equiped with electric motor, electronic
controller and a removable battery pack to be recharged on a solar panel.
His dream is to see every Aurovilian on one of these silent, odourless
wonders of modern technology, which though not fast are extremely environmentally
friendly. He will be ready to rent them to Auroville's guests in the
near future, with battery loading stations all over Auroville for longer-lasting
Finally, there's another dream of Carsten's and
some Aurovilians, and that is to have a solar driven train. If these
non-polluting products become practical realities, one fine day Auroville
will indeed have a transport system that is really of the future.
See also AV