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Auroville's Pioneering Journey in Renewable Energy: A Conversation with Arnab Ghosh

Yuvabe team met with Arnab Ghosh, an Ashram school alumni, to learn about the early days of Auroville’s involvement in renewable energy.

Arnab Ghosh’s journey into the world of renewable energy began in the year 2000 when he joined Centre for Scientific Research in Auroville for his first professional experience. Growing up in the cocoon of the Aurobindo Ashram and his placement with CSR, Ghosh got a unique background that positioned him at the forefront of the sustainable energy movement in India.

Auroville's commitment to renewable energy began out of necessity. With limited access to food and electricity, Auroville's inhabitants had to rely on the sun as their primary power source. Additionally, the diverse population brought exposure to renewable energy technologies from Western Europe, where they had already gained some success.

As part of CSR, Arnab was engaged in implementing and assembling solar energy across India in collaboration with TATA BP. Arnab shared stories of CSR's logistical prowess in delivering solar panels and batteries to far-flung and remote areas of Jammu and Kashmir under government contracts, all the way from Auroville. The success of these early projects served as a testament to the team's dedication and innovation in the face of adversity.

Ghosh also highlighted the collaboration between the Aurobindo Ashram and Auroville, which led to the Ashram's school becoming the first in India to give energy back to the grid after solar electrification.

One of the most notable renewable energy projects in Auroville is the solar bowl at the solar kitchen, which is among the largest in the world. Arnab fondly remembers being present for its first-ever cooking test. This achievement speaks volumes about the impact of cooperation and shared goals in promoting sustainable living.

However, despite the increasing popularity of renewable energy, there are still challenges that need to be addressed. For instance, the initial costs of installing solar panels can be high, which makes it difficult for people from low-income households to adopt the technology. Moreover, the availability of land for renewable energy projects is a major concern in densely populated countries like India.

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Despite these challenges, Arnab remains optimistic about the future of renewable energy. With advancements in technology, it is becoming increasingly accessible and affordable for people across the globe. As more people become aware of the benefits of renewable energy, the demand for it will only increase, but the industry must continue to innovate and adapt to remain competitive.

One of the factors that also possibly contributed to Auroville's success in renewable energy is its location in Tamil Nadu, which is the highest producer of wind energy on the planet. The state's favourable conditions and advanced research and development in wind energy played a crucial role in the development of sustainable power sources.

Arnab Ghosh's journey, and the broader success of Auroville, provides a roadmap for future generations to follow in the quest for a more sustainable world. The city has long been an early adopter of renewable energy technologies, setting a remarkable example for the rest of the world.


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