A Windmill in high places

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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8 Comments on “A Windmill in high places”

  1. Shyamal Says:

    Nice ! Any chance of including the economics of it ? There are similar amazing ventures all along the Himalayas harnessing flowing water and wind to excellent effect both at home and community scales.

  2. iniyaal Says:

    Wow… nice to read about this. I have seen similar small wind and solar combined structures atop big buildings here in Tamil Nadu. But doing it high up in the Himalayas, in sub-zero temperatures is amazing.

  3. Audrey Burtrum-Stanley Says:

    This was a priceless gift — ELECTRICITY!
    The ‘Father of the Rural Electric Co-Operative’ here in Arkansas (USA) was our dear neighbor/friend – the late-Harry Oswald. He told us of the life-altering-changes electric power provided. (We must NEVER take this luxury for granted!) After he had worked his magic here, the gentleman provided help in Latin America. He was a 20th Century Ben Franklin!
    Today, gazing at a big-hunking-transformer-gripping-the-side-of-a-tall-pole-garlanded-in-wires has a ‘special beauty.’ Our REC-O pal revealed how this modern convience brings the simpliest pleasure – ‘light to darkness’; it produces progress in countless ways and blesses many with hope…
    I wish you all continued success with similar ‘Good Deeds.’

  4. […] find the right people & thanx to Nitya again, i got introduced to a genial genius of a man Lt col Vivek Mundkur retd. After a just brief conversation over the phone, it was so nice to see him within a few hours […]

  5. Thomas Pullenkav Says:

    Could somebody give me the contact details of Lt Col Vivek Mundkur. Thanks.

  6. Audrey Burtrum-Stanley Says:

    More magic for folks in far-away-places high in the glorious mountains. They need to stretch ‘light’ in their world / lives long after the daily sun has gone down. This is an inspiring tale.

    I just witnessed a few months back a television news story about a man in the Phillippines who uses plastic soda bottles filled with fluid as lights. A hole is cut into the roof of the dwelling (generally an improverished person’s metal structure) and a collar is fitted around the bottle, which is installed in the hole. Amazingly, the sunlight is conducted all through the room in the house below (dimly – but it is there). The bottle of fluid illuminates cost free as long as the sun shines outside! (This process needs to be used in warm climates only, as the fluid would freeze.)

    There are so many ways life can be made easier, more productive and simply beautiful. We just need to share and work together. I highly commend this wonderful work with the newly installed generating processes.

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