The philanthropy gene inside me has always been feeble. The reason can be attributed to pure slothfulness. On a blazing Sunday afternoon, Greenpeace taught me how the sun's generosity could be harnessed in an environment friendly way.When all of Delhi stayed huddled below their air conditioners, the Greenpeace India team welcomed the sun with open arms, literally and metaphorically. The third in a series of Renewable Energy community fairs across Delhi, the fair at Press Enclave, Saket saw an outpouring of residents belonging to assorted age groups and professions. From infants, toddlers, teenagers, parents, and grandparents to engineers, students, lawyers, and activists, the fair glimmered in its motley of individuals.
With a registration and information desk, residents were not in want of information about why Greenpeace was up in arms in the scorching sun. In simple terms, Greenpeace wanted Delhi to join the global bandwagon of switching onto solar energy to meet its energy needs. The fair was pieced together in the Press Enclave children's playground. 'Switch on the Sun' banners were put up between the swings. Solar panels surrounded the huge climber creating a likable metaphor of young kids rooting for the sun. There were free chocolate cakes baked in solar cookers, synthesizing taste and energy efficiency. Children were engrossed in splashing across t-shirts and posters what the adults had gotten wrong. Mango and cola flavored ice cream dollies were kept in refrigerators running on solar power. The tangy addition was much in demand with both children and adults queuing for more. There were pictures displayed on canvass along with placards to enlighten how it had become incumbent to switching from the depleting resource of coal to solar for the survival of the planet. Though at a small-scale, this point was swiftly being driven. Transition was taking place before my eyes.
Ananth Krishnan, an engineer and marketing guy volunteered to brief the residents on the logistics of switching on the sun. Becoming energy efficient preceded harnessing solar energy. Mr. Krishnan informed me that the first step would be to switch to LED bulbs from their incandescent counterparts. LED bulbs use less amount of energy in giving the same power. 7 watts from LED bulbs is equivalent to 17-25 watts in incandescent bulbs. LED tube-lights also run on less energy. The electricity in our homes runs on an AC circuit, while solar energy runs on a DC circuit. Switching onto DC has many advantages. Since the current flows in one direction in a DC circuit, inverter batteries if charged through solar power are energy efficient by having a grid backup. He in fact enlightened me on how there were farmhouses in Uttar Pradesh running solely on solar power.
Parents were open to the idea of installing solar panels on their rooftops. Their only query was whether the government would be ready in supporting this energy efficient transition. One of the parents highlighted the concern of incessant power cuts, especially creating a problem during exam time. Some of them asked me whether the water shortage crisis could also be solved through solar energy. Luckily for Mr Krishnan's briefing, I was able to inform them that a water pump running on solar energy does not run on grid electricity. The efficiency is such that it can also be used for irrigation and livestock. A new idea is always met with resistance. In this case, there were some skeptics who questioned the sustainability of the Greenpeace campaign and how far it would actually go in convincing the government to harness solar energy. Greenpeace public engagement campaigners informed them that a united Delhi will be a sufficient pressure group in making the initiative practicable. Their data and documentation was ready to back them up.
The fair resonated with a quiz, street play and Delhi Drummers on board. Each correct answer got a solar torch. The street play by AHWAAN Foundation streamlined the idea of the initiative for citizens to take the electricity shortage in Delhi seriously. The solution lay in looking at the sun and doing away with grid infrastructure. The day ended with Greenpeace members and residents shaking a leg to the fascinating reverberation of drums by Delhi Drummers. The vigor of the gathering took away the listlessness of the summer heat with everyone present ultimately embracing the wondrous rays of the sun. I was truly solar powered. It was an afternoon of enlightenment.
I went back home musing on an insightful suggestion yanked on by an engineer who came as a volunteer -'Instead of a coal-gate why don't we have a sun-gate? It's a much more intelligent and efficient way of corruption. A win-win situation if you may please.' Food for thought Delhi?
All photos © Apoorv Tiwary
Arpita Seth is a volunteer with Greenpeace India.
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