Energy is essential for our world to function, both in physical and spiritual terms. The Organization of the Brahma Kumaris for the last 75 years provides methods to generate spiritual power through Raja Yoga. Apart from the spiritual foundation, Brahma Kumaris has also founded a Department of Renewable Energy that has been actively involved in the research and demonstration of renewable energy types since 1992. Our sun emits daily over 100 times the energy we need to cover our planet’s demands. Renewable energy technologies offer a sustainable and clean solution for the environment.
Golo Pilz, the Initiator and Head of Project IndiaOne is setting the foundation to meet the demands for electricity and other power sources for the residents and visitors of the Complexes of the World Spiritual University of Brahma Kumaris on Mount Abu, India.
You have been working in the field of renewable energy sources for more than 15 years. So far what has this included?
I first came to India in 1984 and saw great potential in the renewable energy sources; there I also experienced power cuts and fuel shortages for the first time. So I started wondering what could be done about it. The circumstances were positive, the Institution was very interested in my ideas, so we started. In 1993 we established a department for renewable energy sources and began carrying out various research projects. The first one involved the building of an environmentally friendly house of mud bricks, also known as zero energy or passive solar architecture building. Then we equipped it with a solar cooking system and we put up a small wind generator and photovoltaic for an RnD (Research and Demonstration) project sponsored by the German government. From that day on, we started exploring further possibilities in the use of renewable energy sources that will cover not only small houses but also the entire Institution.
|Reflector -Receiver & 3 Inventors|
Today, Brahma Kumaris is probably the largest Institution in India using renewable energy sources. We have 5 solar steam cooking systems based on parabolic dishes, almost 800KW installed photovoltaic solar panels in 150 systems spread all over India and currently we are setting up a 1MW (MegaWatt) solar power plant. This is an RnD project sponsored by both the Indian Government and the German Government. It's a very innovative thermal power plant based on a 60m2 parabolic dish in which the sunlight is focused on a receiver which also functions as a thermal storage. The thermal energy is stored overnight and hopefully we will be able to operate the plant on a 24-hour basis.
|Solar Steam Cooking System at Shantivan Campus|
What is the capacity of the power plant?
The power plant is intended for the Shantivan Campus and can host up to 20-25.000 people. Our peak load at the moment is 1MW. We also have large demands for hot water and steam, so we hope that with the new power plant we will be able to generate electricity for the entire campus. This means 500.000 litres of hot water daily, plus some extra steam for the kitchen in order to cook meals for everyone. So we hope that the plant will provide for the entire campus.
In your opinion, how does the use of this energy affect the broader environment?
We are all aware of our world’s massive problems: the climate is changing and everyone experiences its effects; we are going through a financial crisis; we have conventional fuel deficiency and the situation is quite dramatic to say the least. So we need to switch our economy and our power generation to a renewable, cyclic technology. This is where solar energy can play a vital role. It is an ideal solution for the sun drenched countries as it can help generate energy, distribute it locally and create employment opportunities for the local society. So research projects like this one are essential in order to demonstrate the viability of renewable energy technologies, convey technology from the West to the developing countries and enable these countries to set up a sustainable infrastructure. Our world is on the brink of financial collapse, it is facing enormous economic problems and huge fuel deficiencies, so it’s a dire necessity to adopt these new technologies and really give them a chance.
|Focus & Sun|
Knowing that Brahma Kumaris is an organization with spiritual orientation, according to your opinion, what stimulated the interest in the environment?
I have been practicing meditation for 27 years. Normally, when you start meditating, you become a very peaceful being and you develop love and compassion for human beings as well as for nature and the environment. As we have only one planet, we cannot continue growing incessantly. What we need is growth in quality – not in quantity – and a quality growth is only possible when we look deeper into technology and the systems that we use. It is very important for us to find ways to change our lifestyle and contribute solutions to all our problems.
As a spiritual person, I am a vegetarian, which helps reduce my energy consumption. I am a very moderate consumer, I don’t buy every year a new mobile phone and I don’t change cars frequently or do anything of the sort. I try to pursue a modest lifestyle but that doesn’t mean I concede to a lower quality of life. I am careful and I think before I purchase something. Each one of us needs to consider what we can do on a personal level with respect to energy consumption. One should ask oneself: “Do I need to turn on this light?”, “Do I really have to travel there?”, “Do I need to spend so much water?”. In other words, we need to carry out a personal “energy audit”, encourage others in that direction and spread the good news.
Spiritual people are environment friendly people because spirituality and green philosophy go hand in hand; they both sustain the environment, they both want to bring peace and happiness on earth. And in order to bring peace and happiness on earth, we need to create sustainable technology and a sustainable economy.
You practice meditation for quite some time. From your experience, what is the connection between our thoughts and the environment?
By nature, first we think, then we plan, then we act. The technology we use was first visioned in our minds, in our consciousness. To a certain extent, the world is a reflection of our thoughts. So in order to change the world and make it right, environmentally friendly, green and a world of peace and happiness, we need to change our consciousness. Under no circumstances can we sustain long-term change with today’s thought patterns. So, in order to bring lasting changes to our world, we first have to bring a change in our thoughts. We need to start thinking in a more peaceful, greener, less greedy manner and we need to have more compassion; then technology, our thoughts and our actions will automatically become environmentally friendly, helping create a brighter future.
How do you think we can implement values in our society, a society that is bombarded by diverse opinions and faces challenges, such as financial and environmental crisis?
It is very difficult for people to find orientation nowadays. Like you correctly said, there is information overkill; with the numerous opinions we hear every day, it is difficult to find orientation and distinguish right from wrong. On a personal level, I find that meditation, inner peace and stillness help me clarify ideas in my mind, achieve inner strength, essential calmness and act correctly. So I believe that contemplation or meditation can be very helpful in dealing with the current situation, which I honestly find very confusing.
|Solar land from the mountains|
What does Nature represent for you?
Nature is our mother and our father. It provides oxygen, food, it is our playground, our environment that supplies us with everything we need, and thus we should be careful not to destroy or harm it. Currently, our activities harm nature extremely. We exploit nature without considering the next generations. We over-exploit the natural resources and our ecological footprint is disastrous. At the moment we make use of one and a half planets and in 25 years we will be making use of 2 planets – and this without taking into consideration that population is growing at the same time. So it is obvious that we need to bring change, otherwise we will learn the hard way. We need to realize the difficult situation we are in and change our lifestyle, our attitude and our consciousness if we want to avoid a hard crash.
In what ways do you think we have dissociated from our purpose on earth?
Our original purpose on earth is to live in joy and happiness. At present, many people on our planet live in hardship. People don’t have enough food, face drastic climatic changes and many others don’t experience peace. It is a fact that humanity has lost a dimension; it has lost its connection to its origin, to God and to our purpose on earth. We have embraced materialism and possessiveness thus ethics like inner peace, purity, compassion and brotherhood are not valued much anymore. This is sad because ultimately we reap what we sow and it’s high time we humans assess the situation we are in and bring change both on a personal level and a global level. Plenty of environmentally friendly ideas and technologies exist; we only need to implement and make the most of them.
Golo Pilz was interviewed by Vasia Pelegrati