The Neotia University (TNU) has organized a conference on “Energy Options for Tomorrow: Technology to Sustainability” which was concluded on 19th April. During the conference large number of talks were given by scientists from Trinity College Dublin, The University of Edinburgh, IISc Bangalore, IITs, etc. In addition to this, top industry persons from India Power Corporation Limited, Adani Power Limited, Vikram Solar Private Limited, Emami Power, as well as, CSIR, MNRE and young scientists discussed relevant issues and most recent research work in this area. Nearly 50 posters and 20 invited talks were presented.
M. K. Narayanan, Former Governor of West Bengal, attended the conference at Eco Vista, New Town. In his speech, Shri Narayanan highlighted the importance of technology in the lives of human beings and how the society is being impacted by technology. He spoke about the importance of energy in development of any society. According to him, India which is doing well in using non-conventional energy sources has to do better by training new generation of technocrats and scientists. He congratulated the organizer TNU for initiating a unique B.Tech programme in Energy Engineering. In the same session, the Vice Chancellor of TNU, Prof. A. S. Kolaskar said, “The new executive order of US President Donald Trump gives immense opportunity to India to play a major role to achieve the goals of Paris Convention. However, India needs to invest in energy research as well as human resource development by changing our current policies.”
The academic session had an interesting talk by Mr. Shrirang Karandikar, CEO, India Power Corporation Limited, who pointed out that, like the mobile telephone user can select the vendor, every user of electricity must have a choice to select an electricity provider only then one can expect to get low cost high quality 24x7 power supply. He also mentioned that ASSOCHAM has been lobbying for this and hoping that the new policy of Government of India will include these suggestions. In the same session, Mr. Sandeep Dixit, Head, Adani Power Center for Research and Performance Consulting talked about the impact of renewable energy based electricity generation on the Indian grid. He emphasised the need to create a separate grid for renewable energy based electricity. Professor Kamanio Chattopadhyay, IISc Bangalore, pointed out how the energy scenario is evolving and argued that the figures which have been published about the requirement of energy need to be accepted with a pinch of salt as many advancements are taking place to conserve energy and to reduce losses in distribution. Mr. Ivan Saha, BU Head, Vikram Solar Pvt Ltd, said that his company is competitive in terms of cost and quality of solar panels with grade I companies in China for solar panels. He further pointed out that price of generation of energy from sun is comparable to or lower than conventional thermal electrical power. He mentioned that his company will soon start manufacturing solar cells. Other speakers have also pointed out various advancements in solar cell technologies and reduction in cost.
An absorbing talk was delivered by Mr. Avinash Shirode, Founder, Shirode Associates who spoke on the innovative approach in design of wind mills, particularly about the use of small magnets in large numbers that help in generating electricity from low RPM and low wind velocity. He cited several examples on how wind mills can be used in different shapes and sizes to generate energy from almost anything that moves. Professor Biswajit Basu of Trinity College, Dublin and Professor Joydip Bhattacharjee, Dept of Ocean Engineering and Naval Architecture, IIT Kharagpur dealt with electrical power generation from off shore tidal waves. They described several new approaches in design of capturing tidal wave energy and suggested that India has huge potential to generate energy from offshore tidal waves. Professor Parul Chakrabarti from Bengal Tuberculosis Association said that one can use bacteria to design fuel cells and generate energy. The specific bacteria about which she spoke is called R. ferrireducens. This bacteria converts more than 80% sugar and thus provides sufficient energy. She has been designing such fuel cells in her laboratory in Kolkata. Among other noted speakers, Dr. G. Giridhar, Deputy Director General & Head, National Institute of Wind Energy, Chennai, spoke on solar resource assessment in India.
The conference also witnessed a panel discussion where the economists, industry captains and academia discussed how to bring down the cost of electricity to the end user without compromising on the quality. It was highlighted that the users today are paying high cost per unit of electrical power though the manufacturer is selling it almost at production cost or even at a loss. This two-three fold more cost that the end user is paying has to be bridged. Towards this, several steps were discussed by the panelists –
· Better distribution and reduction in loss in the grid
· Increased grid capacity
· Not to disrupt base power generating generators such as based on coal, gas etc.
· To evolve better storage systems
The conference was attended by more than 90 scientists and technocrats from Edinburgh, Dublin and almost all states of India. Nearly 20 academic institutes and 8 different industry representatives participated in the conference. During the conference, 20 lectures, panel discussions, 29 posters and 12 young researchers’ gave oral presentations. Springer Publishers gave out the best 4 Poster award and one best overall presentation award. Each award being 250 Euro in e-books published by Springer. The conference was supported by India Power Corporation Limited, Vikram Solar Private Limited, CSIR and Springer among others. The success of the conference proves that private universities like TNU are taking higher education and academics seriously.