The efforts and interest that Auroville has collectively put towards making renewable energy options practical, affordable, and usable perhaps is one of the best examples of Auroville’s motto of being a place of unending education. Auroville, initiated >40years back in a landscape which was then remote and devoid of any infrastructures, made it necessary for residents to take up renewable energy initiatives, such as windmills for pumping water, and solar photovoltaic panels for lighting. By plan, the green belt in Auroville that surrounds the city-area in the center is mandated to remain off the grid. This continued to encourage new innovative green energy initiatives over the years. The technologies that were tested and used - include (and are not limited to) bio-gas, solar thermal applications in appliances and building construction, several generations of windmills to pump water, solar PV systems for electricity and pumping, and so on. Such energy options have improved lives within Auroville, in the bioregion, and in the areas far beyond.
Today Matri-Mandir in Auroville hosts the largest solar PV installation in India, and solar kitchen equipped to cook for >1000 people everyday primarily uses the energy generated from the largest solar collector in Asia developed and build indigenously at Auroville. The concern for climate change, the urge to have a smaller foot-print on earth, and the combined effects of resourceful minds from the area and around the world have created a Medici-effect encouraging further innovation and application of renewable energy designs, systems, and modules in Auroville. It is almost impossible to include an exhaustive list of current renewable energy initiatives; they include – solar home and street lightings, solar drier, solar water heater, solar space conditioning (dehumidifier /air conditioner), solar cart, electric vehicle, biodiesel, algal-fuel, wind-generator, passive solar buildings, and many more.
Auroville has much to contribute towards materializing sustainable development through renewable and decentralized energy systems. Within India alone 56.5% (~76.8 million) rural and 11.6% (~6.23 million) urban population do not have access to grid energy. Moreover, the supply is not reliable even for those who are connected. Similar situation exists in many developing nations around the world. Auroville acts as a living laboratory in developing, adapting, and testing renewable energy designs, systems, and products that can then be adopted elsewhere.