Our Story

Our Story

How BHAVE Power Systems Began

Mahesh was working on a solar lighting project on IIM K campus that linked the top of a hill to a coffee shop down the steps a few hundred yards away along a winding walking path. The path was sufficiently remote and not used much; it made no sense to electrify it. The result was that students used the pathway during daytime but not at night. Snakes and scorpions were frequently sighted on the path and that made it dangerous too. People used the long winding road instead of the stairwell at night.

The question arose: Could we light up the pathway using solar power? It turned out we could. We asked the local experts at Jwala Solar – Adarsh, Renjith, and Sreekanth – now a part of BHAVE Power team, to do the job. About 30, 8-Watt bulbs mounted in a 12 feet high lamppost each, spaced ~ 20 feet apart, were installed with solar panels at the entrance to the pathway and a small battery bank was placed next to it. The system worked. The pathway was lit up. Students could go up and down it, and save time instead of traversing the winding regular road.   


Once this was functioning properly, the entire hill had a line of lights at night, in the middle of surrounding darkness. It was a spectacular sight, especially grand when the electricity went out on the campus. This was frequent, about once each night.  

Mahesh asked Adarsh: Could we not use solar panels and batteries to do the cooking in the hostels? Why should the kitchens in hostels use LPG cylinders when there is so much sunlight on campus, and indeed throughout India?   


Adarsh’s first reply was: Cooking requires a lot of power. A cookstove would be at least 1,000 Watts, many times the capacity of the lighting project. Solar panels and batteries needed would be many, expensive, and large. Nevertheless, Mahesh insisted: Let us do the calculations. How many solar panels and what battery sizes would be needed for solar powered cooking?   


Upon doing the math, we realized cooking could be done. Accordingly, Mahesh wrote an article, from India, about solar photovoltaics for cooking in Renewable Energy World. That generated a lot of reader response. Dr. Barry Butler, Solana Beach, California, was one of them. When we made first contact, we realized Mahesh’s home was a few miles away in San Diego where Dr. Butler lived. Extraordinary serendipity!   


We met a few times in Dr. Butler’s backyard. Then we cooked a meal in his backyard with Roger and Cindy Davenport. Dr. Butler had solar panels because he already operated a solar water heating business. For our cooking experiment Dr. Butler purchased a Goal Zero 1 kWh Li-ion battery.  


The rest of the story with several other demonstrations with a variety of solar panels, different sizes of batteries is written about in these web pages.  


Microgrids for Clean Cooking and Internet | Renewable Energy World, Feb 27, 2017  

Portable Cooking – Freedom from the Kitchen Counter

When Mahesh reached his apartment at IIM Kozhikode campus one afternoon, after an international and long flight, he was tired and hungry. His colleague and neighbor invited him for dinner. His wife, instead of cooking dosas in the kitchen, and bringing it out to the living room, as is customary, simply moved her induction stove and batter to the dining table in the living room. She cooked right there in front of us, while we conversed, and joined in the discussions. Portable, fire-free, smoke free, pollution-free cooking, thanks to her induction cookstove. Her cookstove was powered by grid electricity. With BHAVE Power, it will be solar powered.  

Multi-tasking: Cooking While Watching TV

I gifted an induction cooktop to my sister. She promptly placed it on her kitchen counter, the seemingly normal thing to do. But within hours, instead of facing a wall, an exhaust fan and vent, which is noisy, my sister moved her induction cookstove to the dining table, and watched her favorite TV show in the living room as she cooked. Of course, no fire, no fuel, and no emissions. With BHAVE Power, cooking would be solar powered and free, after paying for the equipment!  

Cooking in High Rise Building Apartments

At the UN’s World Environment Day exhibition, June 2018, New Delhi, many people came by our booth and we offered each visitor solar powered tea. At a relatively quiet moment, a man came by, and said, “I’m on the management committee of a housing colony in Gurugram. Our society has several hundred apartments. Could your solution be installed in our buildings? I can invite you to present at our next committee meeting.”  

We were at the stage, then, where we were happy that solar and batteries could be used for cooking at all. The thought of extending our solution to an apartment complex was far from our mind. Our thoughts ran to covering sunlight facing windows with solar panels, or placing the panels in a sunlit balcony, and keeping the battery in a corner of it, and so forth. I said to him, “We are too early stage. I will have to come back to you at a later date.” We took down his contact information.  


His thinking was appealing. If we can deploy our system in apartments, there would only be the one-time capital cost of the equipment – the equivalent of a mid-size refrigerator. There would be no monthly costs, for example, a bill for the piped natural gas that his housing colony residents today incurred. And no recurring cost of LPG cylinders. Assuming he lived in one such high-end apartments as pictured, the cost would not be a major issue for the residents. Once installed, the cooking would be “free” – zero emissions, clean, and with no recurring inconveniences of ordering and delivery.  


Fast forward about two years, and now we have a solution for just such an apartment building, developed with the help of final year engineering students at National University of Singapore – solar on roof or parking area, batteries in the basement or terrace, and wired renewable energy supplied to each apartment supported by IoT.