Gone with the wind

Published: Thursday 15 September 1994

-- (Credit: Pradip Saha /CSE)Windmills installed by the Union ministry of non-conventional energy in the Amritsar district of Punjab to pump water for irrigation have turned a last dance. According to G S Dhillon of the Thapar Institute of Engineering and Technology at Amritsar, who recently evaluated the windmills and presented his report to the Punjab Energy Development Agency, the scheme failed because the low-cost windmills were poorly designed.

Says Dhillon, "The windmills failed to live up to the pumping capacity. Although designed to withstand wind speeds above 36 kmph, they either collapsed or their rotor blades got twisted." The report also states that the metal chosen for the windmills, although successful in the coastal belts, were unsuited for the dry Punjab region.

The dead windmills have led to a loss of credibility and confidence among the farmers who had enthusiastically welcomed the devices. Many of these windmills are skeletons on the horizon -- standing idle, with twisted, broken or missing rotor blades -- or have collapsed. Selected by the state's science and technology department, they were developed by the National Wind Energy Research and Development Centre of the Institute of Engineering and Rural Technology at Allahabad.

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