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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 systems.

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.

Solar lamps

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.

Solar transport

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 driving fun.

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 Today

Contact: aep@auroville.org.in


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