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India: Windmills for Salt Farmers

Economic, social  development & support

India: Windmills for Salt Farmers

Objective: to replace diesel generators in salt farms with low-cost windmills.

  • Status

    Project completed

  • Location India

Objective: to replace diesel generators in salt farms with low-cost windmills

Salt farming in Indiamade famous by Mahatma Ghandis activismis a long-standing tradition that predates the Mauryan period (300 B.C.) The country is the worlds third largest salt manufacturer, with an annual production of 18 to 20 million tons, much of it produced by impoverished salt farmers who use diesel generators to pump sea-water into pans left under the sun for evaporation. These generators are both expensive and polluting. To provide salt farmers from the south-western Pipavav region of Gujarat, India with a cost-saving and environmentally-friendly alternative, the Alstom Foundation teamed up with the Grassroots Innovation Augmentation Network (GIAN) to design and manufacture a low-cost windmill adapted to their needs. 

These low-cost windmills, designed with the help of an Alstom Wind team, require very little maintenance, even while working in harsh oceanfront environments. 50 low-cost windmills are scheduled to be deployed in two phases. During any given salt season, each windmill is expected to:

  • pump as many as 3 million litres of salt water,
  • save around 2,600 litres of diesel, (which translates into 7 tons in CO2 emissions per year).
  • have a life-expectancy of 10-15 years.

When all 50 windmills are deployed, the project is expected to reduce CO2 emissions by over 300 tons per year. With minimal maintenance, the life-expectancy of each windmill is 10-15 years. 

Update: April 2011
Though the original project called for 50 windmills, initial testing of the prototypes revealed issues requiring a redesign to ensure their durability. The new budget constraints mean that 45 will be built instead. 

By March 15th 2011, the team had manufactured and installed a first batch of six windmills. The remaining 19 windmills were deployed in batches of 5-7 windmills over the next three to four weeks. A meeting with windmill beneficiaries was held at the installation site 12-13 March to introduce the technology and train them on basic maintenance techniques. 
A study is underway to select the best areas for the deployment of Phase 2 windmills. 

Grassroots Innovation Augmentation Network (GIAN)
The Grassroots Innovation Augmentation Network was set up in 1997 with the help of the Gujarat government to function as a technology business incubator to support untrained, unqualified individual innovators produce sustainable business ventures.