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Thursday, 2 October 2014

Solar Energy a new and prospective branch in Technical Colleges?

The phase-1 of the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM)  was a great success. India’s solar energy capacity (cumulative installed capacity) grew from a mere 17.8 MW in early 2010 to over 10,000 MW in November 2016. The Mission envisages installation of about 60,000 MW utility scale and 40,000 MW Roof Top solar power projects by 2022.

The objective of the Mission is to establish India as a global leader in solar energy by creating conducive conditions for its large scale diffusion across the country. The aim is to reduce the cost of solar power generation in the country through:

i) long term policy,
ii) large scale deployment,
iii) aggressive Research & Development (R&D),
iv) domestic production of critical components and raw materials.

"India is expected to become world's third biggest solar market after China and USA by 2017-18."

To continue with this pace in the deployment of solar power across the nation, the continuous demand of skilled manpower in the key areas like manufacturing, installation, operation and maintenance, marketing and research development needs to be fulfilled. To realize the need for development of human resources is one of the key areas under phase-2 of the mission. It is envisaged that by the later stages, the solar industry will need at least 1 Lac. trained and specialized personnel.

A few IITs for example IIT Delhi, IIT Bombay etc., IIM Ahmedabad, few engineering colleges, and universities have already included education, training programmes, and entrepreneurship courses in solar energy at the graduation and post-graduation level. To strengthen these initiatives, there is a plan to involve other IITs and premier engineering colleges to design and develop courses in solar energy. These specialized courses, with due financial assistance from the government, will of Diploma, B-Tech, M-Tech, and Ph.D level.

The Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore is also planning to set up a Centre of Excellence on decentralized solar thermal power applications. In this regard, the solar energy centre at Gurgaon is being converted into an autonomous institution renamed as National Institute of Solar Energy (NISE). Currently this institute is carrying out Research and Development (R&D) activities, testing and certification, and training programmes in the concerned field.   

Also there is stress to develop and execute specialized courses and training programme at the national level for technicians to meet the requirement for on-field installations, operation and maintenance of solar energy related equipment. There is an ambitious plan and proposal to gear up 100 institutes to provide courses on solar energy at the graduation level. Similarly, 1000 other institutes are to be roped in for providing diploma level and ITI level courses.   
There is a proposal to grant fellowship to train scientist and engineers at the international level during the initial years of execution. Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) is already implementing such a fellowship programme. There are talks to expand this scheme further with due consultation with the industry so as to enhance the practical aspects and employment avenues. There is an additional plan to train and employ energy auditors and managers for the solar industry.       

Thus, one can say that solar energy is going to be the new and potential branch of engineering in future. Our young buddies should rethink and refocus their mindset.