An interesting experiment

By Rahul Chandawarkar
Published: Monday 15 August 2005

A wind energy model on display Peshwe Energy Park, Pune by Maharashtra Energy Development Agency and Pune Municipal Corporation

Phulrani, the toy-train at the erstwhile Peshwe park zoo in Pune used to guzzle diesel and emit black smoke. But that is now history. After the animals were relocated to the newly constructed Rajiv Gandhi zoo in another part of the city, the toy train has undergone a facelift. Phulrani, is now fitted with a battery powered by solar energy! The rain now chugs along merrily at the recently inaugurated Peshwe Energy Park, constructed jointly by the Maharashtra Energy Development Agency (meda) and the Pune Municipal Corporation.

The park officials claim their objective is to impart awareness to children about the uses of renewable energy. A field of solar panels, capable of producing 21.6 kilowatts (kw) of power, greets you as soon as you enter the park.

One interesting exhibit is the wave power generating system. This is modelled on the world's first commercial, sea based wave energy machine, Osprey. The machine was launched in the uk in 1995. The model explains how power can be generated through the use of ocean waves.

Another attraction is the energy slip. It's quite similar to the conventional garden slide. But the slip at the Peshwe energy park has a rubber surface. The moment children sits on the slide, their downward movement activates a pulley. This generates electrical energy, which lights up a screen.

After the children have sweated it out, it is time to take a look at the indoor models. These are displayed inside four pavilions. The hydro-energy pavilion is the pick of the lot. It displays several exhibits of water turbines. Miniature models of the Kaplan turbine, the Pelton wheel, and the Francis turbine can all be operated by the mere push of a button.

However, as Veelas Chaudhari, manager, meda, admits, "We have not been able to generate the 21 kw from the solar panels, as the park gets limited sunlight." As a result, the park has been able to power only five street lights with solar power so far. None of the indoor models work on solar energy. They still rely on conventional electricity. "We hope to bridge the gap very soon," says an apologetic Chaudhari.

But before we come down too heavily on the park, one must remember that these are early days, yet. The park is barely three months old.

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