the energy of bullocks has been converted into electric power in 24 tribal villages of the Chhota Udepur region of the Vadodra district in Gujarat. The experiment was conceptualised by scientist-industrialist Kantibhai C Shroff and his niece Shrutiben Shroff and sponsored by the Shroff Foundation, an ngo providing health care services and education to these villagers. Researchers claim that this experiment could open up a potentially-powerful source of non-conventional energy. According to them if 8,000 bullocks were to be deployed in this project, around 2,000 kw electricity could be produced.
Four bullocks pull a shaft around an axis. The shaft is connected to a gear-box which turns underground shafts. Cogs connect these to a small generator. The generator in turn is connected to a power board and batteries, from where power lines are drawn. The unit cost of this power is not more than Rs 4, as against Rs 1,000 per unit from solar energy panels or Rs 40 per unit from windmills.
If four bullocks do their rounds in three shifts, 50 units per day or 15,000 units in a year (allowing the bullocks a rest period) can easily be produced. The cost of a gear box and other equipment will not exceed Rs 40,000 and the expenses can be brought down to less than Rs 1,500 per site, once the method is improved and a device to store the power found.
The first power generation project, using bullocks, is located at the Kalali village in Gujarat. The generated power is used to run a fodder-shredder machine and a generator from where two separate power lines are drawn, one for a submersible water pump (in a 60 feet deep bore) and another to a grain grinding machine.
At Kalali, the gear-box gives 50 revolutions per minute ( rpm) and once it passes through the shaft and the free-wheels, the rpm increases to 1,400 and then to 2,400. Research is being done on the designs of the wheels so that the rpm can be increased further. This could save the bullocks' energy so that they can produce more energy in fewer rounds.
A bullock's strength goes unutilised after about 90 days' work in the fields, which can be used to generate power. The Shroffs expect that the pilot project, employing 8,000 bullocks will produce around 2,500 kw electricity in the 24 villages, once the Kalali experiment succeeds.
But the project lacks an effective means to store power and a device to balance voltage fluctuations. However, if these are overcome, the method would become viable. Even when bullocks are employed for agrarian work, stored power could be used.
The Shroffs hope that the success of the experiment will serve as a model for the entire country. According to their calculations, the entire country's bullocks can produce nearly 20,000 mw of power and could solve the perennial power crisis in the country.