SolarMango, a part of EAI, was invited to attend the International Conference on Renewable Energy and Sustainable Environment (RESE) at Dr. Mahalingam College of Engineering and Technology (MCET), Pollachi, held between the 10th and 13th of August, 2015.
We attended the event’s 2nd day, i.e. the 11th of August, which marked the formal beginning of the event.
For the inauguration every attendee, student or sponsor, was guided towards the Centenary Centre, a massive auditorium which was completely illuminated by the Sun because of intelligent passive design elements of the structure. The idea of an auditorium lit by passive solar emphasised that MCETs menat business when it came to renewable energy.
The proceedings started off with the Chairman of MCET, Dr. Manickam, welcoming everyone and initiating proceedings. The large crowd was more than thrilled to see their chairman speak.
View of the large gathering for the initial address.
I was present on stage, along with several other prominent industry figureheads from companies like Butterfly Industries, VOLTECH, SWELECT et al. Representatives from other universities, namely Karunya, Periyar Maniyammai, and Cape Breton were also in attendance on stage.
The most prominent figure on stage, however, was the chief guest and Joint Secretary of MNRE, Mr. Tarun Kapoor.
All these dignitaries were formally greeted by the Chairman during his initial address. Following this, several other speakers took to the mic before the MoUs were signed. Highlights of some of these speeches were:
Manickam, Chairman of MCET
Chairmen usually speak for a long time, and again usually, these speeches are more of preachings than anything else. The chairman in this case spoke for hardly 5 minutes, and had a very interesting and memorable point to make: Let us not worry about destroying the earth, because the earth is not exactly bothered. We should rather worry about destroying ourselves with all this pollution because, the earth will live on, but mankind might be destroyed. How true!
Tarun Kapoor, Joint Secretary, MNRE
Comprehensively covered the work done by the MNRE and asserted optimism with regards to the 175 GW renewable energy goal of India by 2022.
Tarun Kapoor’s perspectives
- Older thermal plants could generate power at about Rs 3 but newer ones about 5 Rs. For thermal power plants operating with imported coal, it could be upwards of Rs 5 per kWh
- Natural gas – 7 Rs
- Official potential for RE for India
- Solar 760 GW, Wind 100 GW, Small hydro about 20 GW, but unofficially, for solar and wind it could be much higer. Wind cvould be as high as 2000 GW and no one knows what cud be the limit for solar’s potential in India
- Germany gets 71% of its solar capacity of 38 GW from rooftops
- Rooftop solar can generate power between Rs 6.5-7 per unit
- Planning to set up 25 solar parks; today, largest solar PV power plant is 550 MW in the US
- In Karnataka, a solar park is coming up with 2000 MW
- 400 MW already existing
- 31% of Indian households use kerosene
- 5 W LED is enough to light a small room for studying
- Solar heat is a much more efficient method than solar PV
- Solar CST is not common because there are no recgmized and prominent manufacturers
- Traditional biomass still the largest source of energy in India
- Every engineering college should have courses on RE
C. Kannan, Finance Director, SECI
Emphasised on the financial aspects of the renewable energy sector, and highlighted the need for such knowledge for any newcomer in the industry.
- PFC, IREDA, REC, PTF Financial services all lending to solar
- Multilateral agencies give 20 years tenure loans 15 years + 5 years moratorium
- Rs 12000 crores per annum result from coal tax into NCEF. @ Rs 200 per T of coal, and India using 600 million T of coal a year
- The accelerated depreciation benefit pretty much pays back the equity for a solar power plant within one year!
N. Ramachandran, Vice-Chancellor, Periyar Maniammai University
Explained how everyone can be part of the Solar revolution by using his own house, which is completely off-grid, as an example. His house runs on a combination of LED, solar PV and thermal
Ibrahim Alladin’s Perspectives
- 20 years back, the polytechnic was the first to introduce environmental education
The lady from INSWAREB said they do a lot of work in flyash to bricks and concrete, and even now,50% of flyash from coal power plants is unutilized
Once these special addresses were completed, the MoU proceedings began, with MCET signing MoUs with two universities (Karunya and Periyar Maniyammai Univ) and eight renewable energy companies, namely:
- Voltech Engineers
- Swelect Energy Systems
- India Pistons
- WindStream Technologies
- Core EL Technologies
- Butterfly Industrial Designs
The agenda of these MoUs was to facilitate R&D, as well as to provide broad knowledge to the students of MCET with regards to the new renewable energy sector.
Following this, Mr. Chellapan, MD, Swelect, gave a brief speech about the advent of technology over the years and how we are always looking to innovate, and Mr. Umapathi, MD, Voltech, spoke about how his company provided solar systems to villages in Kerala, where electricity was a hard commodity to come by.
- Founded Voltech in 1995
- Did electrification of 5 tribal villages in Kerala, 40 kW each
- From 35 Kg, 1 KVA trsnsformer wright came down to 800 g
- SWELECT = Solar, Wind & Electronics
- 1984 Numeric founded, 1989 MoU with IISc
- SWELECT – 40 MW of solar installed, 1400 rooftops, 100 MW cap of solar modules
- Standby power for US TV from 10 W to 3 W for 200 million TVs, Japan brought i down further to 1 W
The lunch break followed, post which various seminars were planned to occur simultaneously.
Solar Mango presented an analysis of the Rooftop Solar Plant at MCET during this session. We had extensively analysed the solar plant’s raw data for a year and came up with some interesting numbers and analyses of the performance of the 50 kW power plant.
A mix of students and professors in attendance
Our presentation concluded with a brief Q&A, wherein some technical aspects were also touched upon. An interesting question that arose was whether Solar Panels generate any electricity at night, since the moon reflects the suns light. Such questions captured the forward thinking of the students, which was a bright sign of things we can expect from our future engineers.
Once this was over, a Tea Break was in order. This was followed by the final few seminars, of which Solar Mango attended some. We had the following takeaways from each of them:
- Pradeep Haldar, VP and HoD, SUNY Polytechnic
This was an extremely interesting and insightful presentation, showcasing various research projects undertaken at SUNY, and also portrayed what the future of solar technology could mean for the industry. It was definitely an eye-opener for everyone and the presentation was greatly lauded.
- Pushpa Arabindoo, Lecturer, UCL
A presentation relating to India’s plans of building a hundred “smart cities”. It showcased how the entire concept of smart cities is vague and how “smartness” exists everywhere, but is usually ignored.
This concluded all seminars for the day. The next part of the event was the cultural program, which was extremely well choreographed and executed.
This marked the end of SolarMango’s day at MCET Pollachi, and we left that night for Chennai. Prior to leaving, we caught a glimpse of TEDA’s RENERGY truck, meant to spread awareness about various solar devices that are in use today. The colourful yet educational machine was definitely a sight for sore eyes.
At EAI & Solar Mango, we do not attend many college related renewable energy events, as most of our work is with the industry.
This was however an interesting association we are exploring with MCET. The college, though not considered top tier currently, has a good foundation in terms of management vision and aspirations. They are also putting together a well-balanced collaboration infrastructure, both with academia and industry. All augurs well, and we at Solar Mango are looking forward to working with MCET on a few interesting projects in the renewable energy + industry/academia intersections.
Some specific perspectives & data insights from the speakers and experts