One cannot envisage life in the city without ringing mobiles,
air conditioners, blenders, fans, blazing lights, refrigerators,
whirring vacuum cleaners, fuel guzzling cars. But when we
thought about how many of these are essential and took a step
back in time it was revelation of sorts. Yes, we found that our
dependence on these gadgets have increased, yet we cannot
consider them as essentials! One can mistakenly consider them
essential because the alternatives are either not acceptable or
not available in
the city to
When we planned to build the cottages in Vanashree we had very
little clue about alternate energy sources. But, the idea
of alternate energy sources was a very appealing one.
One of the first things we thought of while designing the house
was that just proper cross ventilation can keep the house
unbelievably cool (from our experience at Anjanappa's house).
This was further reiterated when we met Dr. Ravikumar (CART). He
initiated us into the world of alternate energy sources...
solar, wind, gobar gas, bio-diesel. We got to see first
hand these alternate energy sources at work in Navadarshanam,
where they are completely self sufficient with energy they are
producing and completely off grid.
We first came across solar powered lighting in a remote village
in Shimoga, where we least expected it! Our host convinced us
that it works very well and it was then that we explored about
it in Bangalore. It was during our search for
solar vendors that we came across
Deepa Solar Lighting
Systems. This company took the trouble of
understanding our requirements and implementing the solution in
a short time. The customer service has been excellent. Our
complete home lighting at Vanashree is on solar. We have
deployed 74w panel with two 40 AH batteries. It's been working
very well over last 1 year and we can have up to 4 lights ON for
more than 10 hrs.
Our borewell being 375 ft deep, we are still dependent on the grid
to run our water pump. The alternative models we explored
including wind and solar was prohibitively expensive (in excess
of Rs.3.0 lacs)
With 10 cows in the farm, gobar gas plant which was on the
agenda at the beginning of the 2006 was realized in mid
plant measuring 3 Cu mts caters to both houses for all our cooking
needs and also provides enough compost for the farm. Kiran
from SKG Sangha was
helpful in getting this plant constructed through his expert
Venkateshwar Rao. Now all our cooking is based on fuel from
gobar gas plant.
The other source of energy that we are yet to harness is
bio-diesel. Navadarshanam runs a modified 6.5hp kirloskar motor
on bio-diesel made from the seeds of the Honge (Pongamia glabra)
tree. We have planted over 100 Honge saplings with a plan that
we will have enough seeds in the years to come by to have our
own bio-diesel based generator.
Living in the farm also provides us enough dry coconut leaves
and dead Tur plants which we use for heating water. A good
way to avoid the smoke and the dust associated with it is to
have the fire on the outside with the container for heating
inside the house. This is something that we came across in a
coffee estate in Coorg.
We also have a highly efficient firewood stove from CART which
works very well especially for bulk cooking. It works with many
kinds of raw material in addition to wood such as coir, wood
shaving etc. A disadvantage for small time home cooking with
this stove is that neither the flame can be regulated nor can
the stove be recharged in the middle of cooking.
Priti uses stone grinders and she has not seen a need for any
electrical blenders or mixers at Vanashree.