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At long last, REaction 2012 started and ended – Jul 26-28.

In a way, it was a relief, because despite the occasional hiccups, the event went off fairly well.

I am thankful to the 100+ experts who spent their time to come down to Chennai Trade Centre to make their presentations and speeches. I also thank the 1500 delegates who had come down, with many of them staying all three days.

Special thanks to the 15 corporate sponsors for supporting us financially and otherwise during the event.

I am glad that our desire to have unique topics discussed was indeed achieved – emerging biofuels, fuel cells, electric vehicles, diesel to renewables, use of renewable energy for the bottom of pyramid, green computing, use of IT/software in renewable energy, smart grid, career opportunities in renewable energy were some of the unique topics that were discussed. We were able to find excellent experts in almost all these topics.

I am still getting appreciation letters by the truckloads – so we must have done something right! And what a bore a show would be if there are no negatives! So there were some (very valid) criticisms too.

Here are the positives that have resulted in those appreciations.

Highlights:

1. 1500 delegates – all right, my prediction of 2000 delegates did not come true, but that was mainly because there were almost no students! Close to 200 students were supposed to attend from about 35 colleges, but fewer than 25 attended. In a similar vein, about 25 associations had agreed to send delegations, but only 6 did. To a large extent, these two explain the shortfall of 500. But the 1500 delegates was still quite a crowd, making it the largest renewable energy conference in India (the previous record was 1300, achieved by TEDA’s RENERGY in Mar 2012, which was coordinated  by EAI once again)

2. Unique training and workshop – One full day of workshops, classrooms and training programs, on all the main renewable energy topics. I was not sure we would pull it off, but we just about managed it. While most found it very useful, there were some chaotic moments as this was the first time someone was organizing workshops on all main renewable energy domains. Overall, I am glad we went ahead and conducted workshops on 7 different topics (solar PV, solar thermal, biomass, algae biofuels, waste to energy, energy efficiency, fuel cells)

3. Unique topics – already mentioned. A pleasant surprise was to see the rooms for these sessions being filled to the brim – in fact, a couple of these sessions had delegates standing because they had run out of chairs.

4. Networking sessions – my pick of the event, did they go really well! (There were about 150-200 delegates who stayed back for the two networking sessions we had, and almost everyone told me they found them the most useful part of the program)

5. Great inauguration & panel discussion – I had thought up the idea of getting the CEOs of the top companies in the main four renewable energy domains for the inauguration. But the idea came to me barely 2 weeks before the event, and hence I was not sure I would actually get them all there. It was hence a fairly satisfied me standing on the stage during inauguration with the key guys – Pashupathy Gopalan from Sun Edison (Solar PV), Shiv Shukla from Abengoa (CSP), Ramesh Kymal from Gamesa (Wind) and Krishan from MPPL (Biomass). Sudeep Jain, the CMD of TEDA (Tamil Nadu Energy Dev Agency) completed the circle, representing the policy making aspect of renewable energy. The lively panel discussion (moderated by Sudeep) following the inauguration was, to my knowledge, the only panel discussion that had taken place between these four heads of the prominent companies in the four main sectors. 30 minutes to remember.

And now, the not so great things about REaction 2012

1. For someone who screams murder if someone comes late by 15 minutes, the first day proceedings delayed by over an hour was simply unpardonable. Guess who was to blame? The big me! True, the inauguration panel discussion went on for longer than we had imagined (but that was excusable given the quality of output coming from the unique discussion), but I did not manage time well after that. At least three expert speakers conveyed to me their displeasure about the delay – apologies! And some of the experts (for instance, Krishan of MPPL and DV Giri of IWTMA) could not participate in their respective sessions owing to the delay (as they had to leave by the time their sessions started)

2. Some training/workshop sessions did not go very well – we had little time to evaluate all the companies coming over to provide the training and workshops, as training was added to the schedule only in the last moment. As a result, a couple of companies that had come down to provide the classroom sessions/workshops had not done their homework. Fault lies pretty much with us as we should have provided them better directions. However, eight out of the ten training sessions received excellent reviews. We will make this ten on ten next time.

3. Food on the third arrived (training/workshop day) arrived way too late. Everyone was left hungry and panting. This was no one’s mistake in particular, appears there was some chaos in traffic along the way, all the same, leaves a bit of bad taste in the mouth (to use a pun!).

So, there! Overall, I am quite satisfied. This was the first version of REaction, I was keen that this event provides the kind of catalysis that is required for many sectors of renewable energy to zoom to the next stage (especially the emerging sectors). It appears that we indeed have made a start.

Some housekeeping announcements for all those who attended the event:

1. The entire event has been videotaped. All of you will be send the videotapes and CD ROMs with presentations – these will be sent to your postal address. Please send a note to narsi(at)eai.in if you have not received these by end of Aug

2. It will be great if you could send me your feedback of the event. We have a feedback form on the EAI web site, but you can also send feedback to narsi(at)eai.in if you wish.

3. For delegates, anything else you need from us, do let me know – same email ID as above

I once again thank all those who made REaction 2012 a success. I have started looking forward to organizing REaction 2013, but not before I hit the bed for a few days of pleasant slumber.