After a long delay between initial commissioning and ironing out of the last technical hitches, finally the huge 15m diameter solar bowl concentrator - one of the largest solar collectors of this type in the world - on the roof of Auroville's Solar Kitchen was dedicated on Tuesday, September 11th, 2001.
Minister of State for Non-conventional Energy Sources
The ceremony, conducted by Shri M. Kannappan, Hon'ble Minister of State for Non-conventional Energy Sources (MNES), Govt of India, was attended Dr E.V.R Shastry, Adviser, MNES; a number of other dignitaries; and members of the Indian Press, various technical contributors, friends of Auroville and Aurovilians. (Shri N. Ramachandran, Hon'ble Minister of State for Finance, Govt of India, had accepted to preside over the function, but had to cancel at short notice because of an urgent need for his presence elsewhere.)
After a brief visit to the bowl and other solar installations on the roof of the Kitchen, the VIPs sat for a welcoming address by Mr Bala Baskar, Secretary, Auroville Foundation (standing in for Dr Kireet Joshi, Chairman of the Auroville Foundation), then heard a technical presentation by Aurovilian Gilles Guigan, Principal Project Investigator, followed by a speech by Dr. Shastry in which he reviewed the growth of non-conventional energy sources in India and welcomed the initiative of Auroville in developing the solar bowl concentrator.
His speech was followed by an address by Shri Kannappan in which he congratulated Auroville, and particularly its Centre for Scientific Research (CSR), on the achievement of setting up the Solar Bowl. He also highlighted Auroville's other work in the field of alternative energy usage, noting specially that Auroville has the highest concentration of photovoltaic systems in India providing power for residences, farms and commercial units, as well as the Matrimandir.
Thanks to all involved
The last speaker was Aurovilian Tency Baetens of CSR, who thanked MNES for their sponsorship and the Minister and other dignitaries for their attending the dedication, specially noting everyone's happiness that the Minister himself hailed from Tamil Nadu! Mr Baetens also thanked all those who had contributed to the project by way of technical advice or their work, including people like Dr C.L. Gupta from the Sri Aurobindo Ashram, the late Aurovilian Dr Sylvie Rousseau, Aurovilians Gilles Guigan, John Harper, Suhasini and many others.
Finally, after a visit to the Matrimandir, the dignitaries enjoyed a lunch at the Solar Kitchen, appropriately cooked using steam produced partly by the solar bowl even though the morning had been partly cloudy.
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