Renewable Energy Projects
Recognizing that renewable energy technologies offer a sustainable way of bringing power and its benefits to people in urban and rural areas that lack sufficient energy supply, the Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University (BKWSU) has been exploring reliable, cost-effective and fossil-fuel-free alternatives to diesel generators and electricity grid extension systems for more than a decade.
Mt Abu, site of BKWSU spiritual headquarters, is located in a remote, arid, impoverished region of Western Rajasthan, India. Conventional commercial electricity supply is at times unreliable and relatively costly. On the plus side, Mt. Abu enjoys long days of sunshine nearly all year round and, due to its 1,300 metre elevation above sea level, is also relatively well-served by wind currents.
The Department of Renewable Energy
In 1992, under the auspices of the Brahma Kumaris family of organizations, the World Renewal Spiritual Trust (WRST) established an on-site Department of Renewable Energy at BKWSU spiritual headquarters. The research and development programme of the Department comprises the following technologies:
- Hybrid alternative energy systems
- Passive solar architecture
- Photovoltaic power packs
- Solar hot water plants
- Solar steam cooking systems
- Water recycling technologies
The initial aim of this Department was to find a solution to meet the electricity and other energy requirements of the University’s many residents and visitors.
With the help of the German Agency for Technical Operations (GTZ) and the Institute of Solar Energy Technologies (ISET) of Kassel, Germany, a small hybrid photovoltaic and wind generator system –one of the first of its kind in India – was set up at BKWSU spiritual headquarters in 1992 to continuously monitor solar radiation and wind speed.
The Ministry of Non–Conventional Energy Sources (MNES), Government of India, financed a further research project involving the installation, in the spring of 1996, of two wind battery chargers – 3kW and 1kW respectively – as part of a programme on wind energy utilization for rural and remote areas. Research findings so far indicate that small wind generators, in combination with photovoltaic or diesel generators, can play a major role in cost – effective and low–maintenance rural electrification programmes.
In 1996, the University’s second campus on Mt. Abu, Gyan Sarovar Academy for a Better World, opened its doors. This eco–friendly complex – inspired by a vision of a modern global village in a rural setting – was constructed, without disturbing the natural topography, to provide a tranquil, pollution-free atmosphere for higher learning. One of its first features was a 10 kW hybrid solar plus wind energy system for electrical generation which provides 24–hours of continuous power supply to the telephone and audiovisual systems at no cost.