Archive for November 2011

A Windmill in high places

1 November 2011
Guest post by
Lt Col Vivek Mundkur (retd)

Vivek Mundkur next to his windmill

It was a symbolic victory for decentralised electric supply: the installation of a windmill and solar panels to light up a monastery  at Komic, Himachal Pradesh located at 15000ft. Even though the State Electricity Board has stretched power lines, at great expense, over high mountains to this tiny village , the hydroelectric power shuts down for much of the year due to subzero temperatures !

Ecosphere , an NGO working in Spiti Valley asked Col Vivek Mundkur  to solve the problem by  installing his  1400 watt wind – solar hybrid on top of  the Komic  Monastery at 15000 ft altitude. Mundkur assembled a small team of ex servicemen to help him. Capt Afzal Amdani and Gautam Deshmukh joined him at Manali for the trip to Spiti Valley.

pLacing the windmill

This is perhaps the highest human habitation in the world to be electrified in this way.  Lamas became solar engineers overnight helping to connect  solar panels, windmill and batteries to 60 LED lamps  in the monastery and the village.

There was  much enthusiasm , and an air of solemnity as they installed the windmill , with the powerful  Buddhist mantra ” Om mani padme hum “, painted  on the blades . The painting was done by  thanka painter, Lama Thukten and volunteer artists.

Sacred symbols have been painted on the windmill blades

Like the  traditional Tibetan  prayer wheel, the windmill  now rotates and spreads positive energy of the prayer into the surroundings, even as it pushes positive electrons into the batteries !!!

Solar cells at the monastery

Another innovation, the pedal generator  was  attached to a battery so  the lamas could   do a workout and charge the batteries at the same time ,  in addition to the solar panel, to light up the main temple and kitchen. They promised to pedal for at least 10 minutes before a meal !!!
Images – copyrighted Vivek Mundkur
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