Innovation

Winds of prosperity

Origins

Manually drawing water from tubewells or borewells is tiring.  Mohammad Mehtar Hussain and Mushtaq Ahmad devised a simple windmill using locally available material like bamboo, timber, strips of old tyres and pieces of iron to ease the process of drawing water. The technology was awarded by NIF in 2007.

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The initial model developed by Mehtar Hussain and Mushtaq Ahmad for pumping water for irrigation

Analogical adaptation

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In 2008, the Network was looking to use another innovation, the Bullet Santi for harvesting salt from salt panes. During one such visit the GIAN team observed that the place had ample amount of winds and the water tables were not deeper than fifty feet. It was soon realised that the windmill could find an application in pumping water for salt farming. Salt farming in Gujarat is a very low paying occupation. Without many alternatives the salt farmers have to somehow manage their livelihoods on a very low annual income. Many in the region are still dependent on the millennia old technology of shaduf pumps. In a coastal region with saline ground water and dry winds, working for hours under the sun is hard work. Some farmers in the region are also using diesel pumps. Use of a windmill in this context seemed like an affordable and a sustainable solution. Consequently, several modifications were made in the design to adapt it for use in salt farming. Around eight demonstrations were conducted in regions of the Little Rann of Kutch, Gir (Junagadh) and Ahmedabad from 2008 to 2010 before establishing the use of the technology.

After consultation with experts at Alstom Wind, collaboration with a local manufacturer, Kaushik Chaudhary, and design inputs from students from Delft University of Technology (TU Delft), GIAN developed an improved design of the windmill. The resulting product was a windmill which could operate at low wind speeds of about 8 to 10 km/hr.

The windmill, in its current form, can pump water from a maximum depth of about 50 feet. The water discharge capacity is about 1200 -1500 L/hr at a wind speed of 10–12 km/hr. It can be fitted onto a tubewell or an open well for light irrigation as well as potable water. Moreover, the windmill is affordable in the medium to long term and easy to operate and maintain.

Implementing the pilot

A pilot project was initiated with the support of Alstom foundation, in March 2011. Under this project, fifty windmills were installed in Kathivadar, Kadiyali and Bherai-Devpara villages located near the Pipavav Port in Amreli, Gujarat. While allocating the windmill pump, the priority was given to women, older salt farmers, farmsizes less than 5 acres, farmers who could not afford a diesel pump and farmers without access to electricity.

The pilot project has been instrumental in considerably reducing drudgery and providing economic benefits (low diesel expenditure and utilization of time in other income generating activities). Each windmill is expected to pump around 2 million litres of brine in a salt season lasting a little over six months. This could lead to an average annual saving of 500 litres of diesel (costing about 28,000 rupees) thereby reducing carbon footprint by approximately 1.11 tonCO2/yr. Thus, fifty windmills collectively reduce the greenhouse emissions by about 55 tonCO2/yr.

Taking the technology to the market

GIAN West filed a patent application to protect the IPR of innovators and transferred the technology to an Ahmedabad-based enterprise, Chaudhary Designers and Fabricators, for large scale commercialization.

TU Delft students during their project with GIAN initiated the creation of Chakardi Salt, an edible salt brand for the consumer market. Chakardi Salt aims to be the first India fair-trade eco-friendly salt. The profits from the salt sales can be put back into funding more windmills making it a viable and sustainable business model. Currently the project is being supported by Enviu, a Dutch not-for-profit incubator.

A windmill and a Shaduf counterpoise pump

A windmill and a shaduf counterpoise pump

In order to create a sustainable business model, in addition to individual salt farmers, private salt works have been identified as target customers for the windmill. These salt works own huge farms and have potential for buying the windmills unlike individual salt farmers. GIAN approached a private salt works unit and identified a new site near Bhavnagar for initial demonstration and testing. One windmill has been installed at their site.

People across continents, irrespective of their socio-economic backgrounds, have come together to co-create solutions for and by the poor.

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