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Auroville Energy Products

Solar gesture

Auroville Energy Products' (AEP) was founded in 1996 Carsten Michelsen. It specialises in solar energy products -such as in solar lamps, solar charge controllers and inverters to provide a complete solution for solar home systems-, wind energy systems - design, supply and erection of wind-diesel hybrid systems- as well as micro-hydro systems. One of its main focuspoints is presently the development of solar transport, starting with a simple bike..

The solar bike

Because of the ever-worsening air quality situation in most of India, including Auroville, the need for economical and ecological vehicles is increasingly felt. Not only is the pollution detrimental to the quality of life for all those living in the affected areas, but according to recent World Bank studies, poor air quality in urban areas is costing billions of dollars in increased health care cost and loss of productivity. Since India has the second highest rate of bicycle use in the world, and the average trip is much less than 20 km, the transformation to electric bicycle use should not be too difficult.

Cleaner means of urban transport

In addition, solar charged electric bicycles are a much more sustainable option than regular motorcycles and are befitting Auroville which struggles towards a more sustainable future. Thus, as urbanisation and motorised transport become an increasingly dominating factor in India, a cleaner means of urban transport would greatly alleviate the horrible air pollution problem that affects every Indian city. Electric bicycles could play a major part in solving these problems.

A light, quiet and pollution-free vehicle
ready to roam Auroville's roads


Empowered by solar energy

The intention is to set up, here in Auroville, a small fleet of electric bicycles (15 in all) which will be chargeable from either the Tamil Nadu electricity grid or from 24VDC solar panels. Existing panels, previously installed in PV pumping systems (there are about 140 of these solar pumping stations in Auroville), can easily be modified to become a solar charging station. Since only two panels are required for charging the electric cycle batteries, this can be done without compromising the original purpose and function of the panels. The bicycles will have a range of approximately 10 km. This range can be extended by either pedalling or using the motor for assistance, or by changing the battery pack at a predetermined site. It must be remembered that when the range of the vehicle is extended, battery size and weight go up. We have come to the conclusion that the 10 km range represents an ideal formula for the immediate Auroville area and presently some bicycles are being tried out.

Rented out to Aurovilians and guests

The electric bicycles will be rented out to residents and their guests on a daily basis. Certainly in these early stages of the production, the rental period will not exceed two weeks at the time in order to allow for proper monitoring of the condition of the new vehicles. Each vehicle will be come with a maintenance booklet where all relevant data will be entered. After 18 months, we will be able to provide a detailed report of the technical and economic feasibility of the program. Public acceptance of a light, quiet and pollution free vehicle will be evaluated as well.

 

The final result will be a slower-paced and pollution-free means of private transport. Health, ecology, and peace of mind will all benefit from this initiative. In addition, this represents one more step towards a more sustainable lifestyle in Auroville.

 

Contact: aep@auroville.org.in

 

 

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