Aparna Nair, TNN

MUTHAWA: Winds of change are blowing at the Muthawa Community Resource Centre in Melghat Tiger Reserve (MTR), and that too quite literally. The centre recently set up a technological hybrid of solar and wind energy to generate electricity in order to fulfil its energy requirements. A small windmill with a capacity to generate about 1kW of electricity was set up at the centre on Saturday in addition to solar power units. The hybrid system first stores the solar and wind energy in its batteries; here it is converted by an inverter into the appropriate wattage for the use of the community centre.

Everything in the centre, which was set up by Nature Conservation Society, Amravati (NCSA) in 2006 to promote sustainable village development activities in Melghat, now runs on this non-conventional energy resource. Right now the system charges four batteries. It has the capacity to charge two more. The centre already had solar energy generators and appliances, but, those couldn't generate the required voltage needed to run LCD projectors, TV and refrigerator. Hence, a biodiesel generator had to be used in order to run them. However, now the entire load will be managed by this hybrid technology.

This is the first centre in MTR which does not depend upon the government for electricity. "This sort of energy experiments can really make a huge difference even though there are certain limitations such as a reduced amount of sunlight during the monsoon or fluctuating wind velocity. This solar-wind hybrid unit will remove the shortcomings of "only wind" or "only solar power", said Nishikant Kale, one of the founders of NCSA, who also looks after its energy security cell. His students at Prof Ram Meghe Institute of Research and Technology helped him to complete this project.

The system was inaugurated by the deputy sarpanch of the nearby Kotha village on Saturday. It also removes concerns over open live electric transmission lines passing through forest areas which can be used by poachers to kill animals.

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