|Brief History||Setup & Activities||Built form|
PATEL RENEWABLE ENERGY RESEARCH INSTITUTE
VALLABH VIDYANAGAR - 388 120,
The institute is located at Vallabh Vidyanagar within the campus of the Sardar Patel University. The nearest railhead is Anand, from where the institute is at a distance of about 5 km, with rickshaws available up to the institute.
Anand experiences hot and dry climate with the summer maximum reaching as high as 45 degrees C. Rainfall in the region is light to moderate. The institute is located on uniform land spread about 3.5 acres.
Sardar Patel Renewable Energy Research Institute (SPRERI) was set up in 1979 to develop technologies to for harnessing renewable energy resources and to promote the use of these technologies. SPRERI is an autonomous, non-profit organisation managed by a Board that comprises leading technologists, scientists and managers. Funding for the institute is available from the Govt. on the basis of project reports submitted by the institute, hence continuous funding is not available which results in a feeling of insecurity among the staff as well as leading to a number of staff members leaving half way through projects. Hence service activities like consultancy, technology evaluation and training have been started to supplement the project funds. In addition, they have recently started direct marketing of technologies developed by them with a view to making the institute self-supporting
The institute is housed in seven residential blocks, which were originally intended to be used as staff accommodation. It is divided into different departments like solar, biogas, and biomass with an administration block. The institute also has a library and a small workshop where model prototypes are produced for the purpose of testing and evaluation. An extension department is also present which mainly deals with the promotion and marketing of technologies developed in the institute.
Fifteen engineers and scientists constitute the core work group of SPRERI. The supporting staff comprises 15 technicians and 10 administrative and general staff members. The institute is equipped with equipment and instrumentation facilities for R&D in Solar energy, Bio-gasification and Thermo-Chemical conversion, which are frequently upgraded.
The institute is mainly involved in developing practicable applications for renewable energy systems like solar energy devices, biomass gasifiers and biogas plants. SPRERI is also a recognised centre of the Ministry of Non-conventional Energy Sources for testing of solar thermal devices. A solar farm (155sq.m.) has been provided for testing of all kinds of solar thermal devices such as solar cookers, absorption chillers, solar flat plate collectors, water distillation systems, solar dryers, solar water heating systems, etc. which are submitted for testing and certification by other institutes as well as manufacturers of these devices. Testing yards for biogas plant and biomass gasifier are also provided. Measuring equipment is situated in the solar farm itself, from where data is collected and fed into the computer system for evaluation.
A number of training programmes are also undertaken by the institute through which a large number of users of renewable energy devices, extension workers and manufacturers are trained by SPRERI experts.
SPRERI is housed in residential units donated by the Charutar Vidya Mandal. The structure is not designed as a research institute but as housing units in which the laboratories and offices have been accommodated. It would therefore be unfair to evaluate the structure as a research institute. However, it is found that electrical services are provided haphazardly. In addition the electric supply itself is inadequate with frequent power cuts due to which a generator has been provided, but even this is inadequate and cannot take the full running load of the institute.
BASIC DESIGN ASPECT
The main body of the institute consists of four identical units placed in a line. The units themselves are symmetrical with a central long verandah flanked by rectangular mass on both sides. The tops of these rectangles are raked back into triangular form to conceal the asbestos roofing behind. A single window is placed approximately at the centre of the rectangle.
ENERGY CONCIOUS DESIGN?
Energy concerns have not been addressed in the design of the building and the structure does not reflect the principles of energy conservation and use of alternate energy systems that it advocates. This is obviously due to the fact that the building was not designed for the purpose for which it is being used. Some efforts have been made subsequently to use renewable energy in the daily running of the institute such as a refrigerator that runs on batteries charged by solar photo-voltaic cells and solar powered street lighting. Greater efforts should have been made to supplement conventional electric supply especially in view of the acute shortage of power in the region.
SPRERI is planning to install a gasifier plant for production of methane gas from the waste collected by the Anand Municipal Corporation. It has also proposed to set up biogas plant for the numerous dairy farms in the region. SPRERI is now concentrating on direct marketing of their technologies instead of depending on the Govt. to popularise and spread awareness about these devices.
Dr. S. MOHANA, Extension officer, SPRERI.