Indore: Need to produce power where it is consumed: IIT Prof

Indore: We are all aware about challenges of climatic change and struggle with energy resources, yet it seems like a never-ending circle of problems as surviving without energy resources is next to impossible. Coming up with workable innovative solutions, head of energy and science department at Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay Chetan Solanki shared his insight about it in an exclusive interview for our readers. He was in town to visit Padma Shri Janak McGilligan Palta, who has pioneered using solar power with her husband (late) Jimmy McGilligan, as a means for sustainable development. They met at Jimmy McGilligan centre for Sustainable Development at Sanawadiya on Sunday. 

Ques: What are the current energy challenges faced by India?

Solanki: There are a lot of challenges in energy from its high cost imports to security and transport. The biggest challenge is climatic change and working on sustainable development. 

Ques: How much energy does India import currently? 

Solanki: Out of total foreign exchange spent by the country, 35 percent is used in importing energy resources including crude oil and natural gas. Over 85 percent crude oil consumed in the country is imported from other countries. About 40 percent of natural gas consumed in the country is imported. Further, 20 percent coal is imported. 

Ques: What is the best way to switch over to renewable energy in India?

Solanki: The best way to use renewable energy is not in a manner the government is doing. Government is coming up with major power plant, so we will still have high transportation and installation cost. We need to go to Gram Swaraj Model and form an Urja Model, where energy is produced where it is consumed.  

Ques: What are the common misconceptions about utilising solar power?

Solanki: People feel solar power needs lots of space. It requires only 250 square feet area. Secondly, people talk about efficiency which is actually enough. Thirdly, people feel solar power would require lot of maintenance but it is not always the case. Fourth, a lot of people feel it would be a struggle in rainy weather. However, with proper design of the plant one can manage enough power in rainy weather. 

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