Giant wind turbines are powered by strong prevailing winds on May 13, 2008 near Palm Springs, California. (Picture for representation) Photograph: (Getty)
A sibling duo from southern Kerala state aims to revolutionise India's energy sector with 'low-cost' wind turbines
Soon after he assumed office earlier this year in May, the chief minister of the southern Indian state of Kerela, Pinarayi Vijayan, kicked off a storm by pledging his support to the Athirappilly hydroelectric project.
Environmentalists were of the view that the controversial project, if implemented, will disturb the ecological balance and destroy the Athirapally waterfalls in the Thrissur district.
The state government was not oblivious to the impact of the project, however, the officials maintained that the government lacks access to other means to address electricity needs of the state.
In the wake of prevailing power crisis in the state,a sibling duo from Kerala has come up with an innovation that the two brothers claim will not disturb the ecological balance. It will also generate electricity at a very nominal price, the brothers say.
Arun George and his brother Anoop have a set up a start-up, Avant Garde Innovations, to produce low-cost wind turbines capable of 'generating electricity for a household for an entire lifetime'.
The turbine that costs US$750 (approximately Rs 50,000) can generate 5KWh/per day.
Talking to WION over the phone, the founder of the company, Arun, said: "Our goal is to eradicate 'energy poverty' (lack of access to modern energy services) and create self-sufficient means for all the needy ones through distributed, affordable and localised renewable energy means. We visualise a world with a cleaner environment, economic prosperity and social change."
"What we are offering right now is an affordable small wind turbine that is suitable for residential, commercial, agricultural, village electrification and other uses. We are aiming to launch it in the market in the current year. "
Interestingly, the Kazakhstan government has listed this innovation among the top hundred start-ups of the year across the world. Arun is scheduled to visit the country today to present his innovation model.
However, this is not the first global acclamation that the start-up has recieved. The company is among the ten small and medium enterprise to be featured in the new UN billion dollar clean investment opportunity directory.
"Ours is the only company in the list of small wind energy manufacturers in India, after being listed in the UN directory. We look forward to better support from investment houses and venture capitalists across the globe," Arun told WION.
He was also invited to Cop21 in Paris to attend the UN-caring for Climate Business Forum last year.
"It is always a moment of pride for us when UN promotes our company by stating that it is showcasing the best (company) in the off-grid clean energy sector globally," Arun says.
It's pertinent to mention that India is the sixth largest energy consumer in the world accounting for 3.4 per cent of global energy consumption. However, successive governments in India have not been able to electrify the remote villages of the country due to huge infrastructural costs involved.
Talking about the cost reduction in the electricity production, Arun told WION: "A small wind turbine generating 1kW energy costs Rs 3-7 lakh (US$4,000-10,000), The company plans to sell it at less than Rs 50,000 (about US$750). Costs will decrease further through mass production." The start-up's pilot project was launched in Kerala's capital city, Thiruvananthapuram, earlier this year in January.
Commenting on the current power crisis in the country, Richenda Van Leeuwen, executive director, Energy Access Initiative, says, "Access to clean and affordable modern energy revolutionises lives. It improves health, enhances income generation, entrepreneurship and empowers women."