Friday, August 21, 2015

Celebrating Independence Day With The Sky Dancers

What would be the perfect way to celebrate the Independence Day other than meeting with one of Indonesia's best engineers?

As we walked towards the wind mills, a young man approached us. Sporting shoulder-length wild curly hair, the man who wore black tank top and knee-length sport pants held our hands in a warm handshake and said,"Welcome! Thank you for coming to our humble place."

He is Ricky Elson, an Indonesian man who has pocketed dozens of patents on electrical engineering products. He currently shares his time between the coastal area of Ciheras and other .

We went to Lentera Angin Nusantara (LAN) to learn about the wind farm that he set up. But besides providing a learning center for the wind turbine research, the place also has several ponds to breed catfish and goldfish, a herb garden and a pasture for the goats and cows.

When we arrived, he was unwrapping a package containing fish feed and fertilizer for the herb garden. He told us his plan to make dried catfish using solar power, make fertilizer for the herb garden from the cows and goats, teach the local farmers to replicate and sell all the products to local markets. 

"You may be wondering why would an engineer learn to grow ginger and breed livestock in this remote area. But I realize how stupid I am when I arrived in this place. I knew nothing about life skills, which is what people really needs," he said.

That night, we had a discussion with Ricky and a group of people who also came to Ciheras. The people came to ask about wind turbine blade design and all the technical stuffs.

"Many people say the wind in Indonesia is not suitable for wind turbine. I say, we must make blade design that can still swing although the wind speed is relatively slow," he said. "If necessary, the blade should still swing although the hub height is relatively low," he added.

All wind turbines in Ciheras swing gracefully, day and night. The young engineers said that when a strong wind/storm took place, it would do furling to prevent it from turning too quickly. They recorded the wind speed everyday, in fact the machine recorded it very 15 minutes, so they had work shifts to monitor the machine.

LAN takes students across Indonesia who want to learn more about wind turbine. Everyone has chores, including Ricky. During our conversation, Ricky would stand up and feed the fishes, or water the herb garden, or take the livestocks to the pasture.

It was a humble learning center on a remote coastal area, and yet it was a busy place.

A gazebo with solar panel on the rooftop


Dried catfish

The sky dancers

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