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Nomads, tribals can plug in to pedal power

Nomads and tribals in power scarce areas may soon be pedalling their way to light with a cycle which produces electricity.

Written by Anuradhamane | Pune |
June 25, 2007 1:26:25 am

Nomads and tribals in power scarce areas may soon be pedalling their way to light with a cycle which produces electricity. This invention of the Vidnyan Ashram, Pabal and the Save Bombay Committee (SBC) won an award at a national competition organised by the World Bank at New Delhi last month.

The project titled ‘Human power-based lighting solution for nomadic and tribal people’ makes use of a bicycle to generate up to four hours of electricity with 30 minutes of cycling. “Seven per cent of India’s population is nomadic and because they are always on the move, they do not have constant access to electricity. Even tribal schools located in far-flung areas have power-cuts causing a lot of problems to students,” says Yogesh Kulkarni of Vidnyan Ashram, who along with Harshad Kamdar and Dilip Sankarreddy of SBC were behind the concept.

They have been perfecting the machine for over a year, making use of a portable generator unit weighing less than three kg that can be attached to any cycle. “Even if a person cycles or just pedals for 15 minutes, 10W of power is generated. And by using this for energy efficient LED lamps, 2W of power is consumed per hour,” says Kamdar.

The project will receive $20,000 as award money from the World Bank by the end of July, after which Kulkarni, Sankarreddy and Kamdar will try to improve the efficiency of the cycle and bring down the cost. A total of 20 ideas from across the country were selected for this contest.

In this two-year project, the team will devote the first six months to installing six such bicycles in six Adivasi Ashram Shalas (tribal schools) and collect the data through trials. In later stages, they will try to bring down the costs. The target price for the attachment is Rs 2,000. “We wish to sell this apparatus to the Adivasi Ashram Shalas at a 50 per cent subsidy and will start working towards that soon,” says Sankarreddy. The team has set a target of 42 Ashram Shalas and 12 nomadic camps to install these bicycles over the next two years.

They are also trying to fix mobile phone chargers in the apparatus. “Today, most nomads and tribals have cell phones, but to get them charged at local stores, it costs them at least Rs 5. If we can improvise on this model, we could help them charge their cell phone for free while cycling,” says Kulkarni.

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