Clean Tech

The answer is blowing in the wind

Preeti Mehra | Updated on April 04, 2021

On duty: The small wind turbine will cut diesel use in the chilly heights

The George brothers’ Avatar small wind turbine is generating electricity for troops in Leh

A new green energy feature sits confidently at minus 30 degrees Celsius, 11,000 ft above sea level at the army base camp in Leh, Ladakh. It is the ‘Made in India’, off-grid 1kW Avatar small wind turbine that will provide a daily output of 5kWh at mean (average) wind speeds of 5.5 m per second. This will reduce diesel usage and help provide decentralised energy 24X7 to the armed forces stationed here.

“It is one of the world’s highest-altitude wind turbines,” says manufacturer Arun George, CEO of Avant Garde Innovations, who was in Leh to instal the Avatar a few months ago. For him and his brother Anup, who is the Chief Product Architect, this is not the first installation of their indigenously produced turbine but was a prestigious order to execute. They faced huge challenges in logistics, including their truck getting stuck in an avalanche. The equipment had to be airlifted to its destination.

For Arun, implementing a project for the services has a special place as he studied at the Sainik School, Thiruvananthapuram. He had earlier installed an Avatar small wind turbine for the naval aircraft yard at Kochi. Comparing the product to a solar installation, he says, “The maximum output for solar on a sunny day is 4-5 kWh per kW. This is the minimum output for the Avatar wind turbine on a windy day. And the cost per kW of our turbine is less than the per kW cost of all major small wind turbines in the world.”

Launched in 2013, Avant Garde produced its first low-cost small wind turbine prototype in 2015. The United Nations picked it as one of the Top 20 from India as part of the Global Cleantech Innovations Programme. And after being showcased at the UN Innovation Summit in 2019, there was no stopping Avant Garde. The brothers kept getting projects — from a church, the navy, Unilever India’s factory in Silvassa, a farm in Kutch… the list goes on. And has extended overseas. “We have started to export to Ecuador, Iceland, Morocco, Colombia, and, just last week, we bagged an order from the US. This will be the first time an India-made small wind turbine will be exported to the US,” says Arun excitedly.

He feels Avatar can easily compete with rooftop solar installations as it is not only affordable at ₹60,000 but also requires much less space.

An apt punchline on the Avant Garde website typifies their commitment to produce ‘clean energy for a clean planet’ — “the answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind”.

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Published on April 04, 2021
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