Reinvest 2018: The Future of solar is ‘Sunnyside Up’

The session 'Sunnyside Up of the future of Solar energy' talked about balancing energy mix, need for storage technologies and innovative solutions to pave a way ahead for the Solar Power.

Away from the usual fanfare the solar energy generates in such events, the session at the Reinvest2018, on Solar power’s Future, touched on the way ahead for the sector. For the first time I did not hear PV installation being mentioned (as many times) as elsewhere in this session. The optimism was palpable as Thomas Schegal, the HoD of Energy System Analysis, said that the Future of Renewables’ is Underestimated and in 30 Years we can reach much further if there is ‘Intelligent integration with Technology’. Professor Dharmendra Yogi, Professor and Director (Clean Energy Research Center), University of Florida, emphasised on the need to focus on CSP, (Concentrated Solar power) and Super critical carbon dioxide Technologies where energy conversion is at 55% and added that Energy storage will be critical to all forms of Renewable energy storage, so CSP can help in storing solar energy.

All of the panelists, discussing various issues that the companies face ,however agreed on few points. The need to balance all kinds of energy sources raised by Tomas Karberger, executive Board Chairman of Renewable Energy Foundation. He also emphasised on the need of predictable legislation so that it does not affect investment decisions already made. This was a hint to the ad-hoc legislations that effect long-term earnings of project.

Much like other panelists in other sessions the issue of Land was also raised. Land acquisition still remains a severe pain point in all the PPAs signed in India and else where. Rahul Munjal of Hero Future Energies went on to say that Land forms only 5-7% of the the cost but causes  95% of the pain in the project.

Manoj Kohli, Soft Bank Energy Executive Chairman,  suggested that MNRE and Industry players have to sit and chalk out a smooth transitioning plan in order to increase the Renewable power share to reach above 30- 40 %. Rangan Banerjee, Head, Department of Energy Science and Engineering, IIT Bombay, did get carried away as he wanted 100% transitioning to renewables, a little self contradictory as the panel did highlight the need of balance in the energy mix through wind and solar and other technologies.

But the star of the evening, for a lot of people in the audience was  Mr Sanjiv Malhotra, Director, Energy Investor Center, The United States Department of Energy (DOE). He gave pointers for the big companies and small to work together. He sought Risk mitigation as investors are focused on team, access to big brothers and technologies and lastly the supply chains. He further shown the limelight on Innovation for cost saving and said to minimise risk Large companies must work with ‘Nimble’ start ups in strategic partnership to make ‘good things happen’ else they become boring. He gave a pyramid formula which was to Create Market, product and technology road-map this will allow the prices of power to come down and become much more affordable for the consumers.

Ashish Khanna of President- Renewables, Tata Power, who moderated the whole session kept the discussion bubbling with ideas. Panelists peppered the session with hi-tech terms like Plasmonic thermal emitter and Nano antenna technology to everyone’s bewilderment and Hydrogen cells and synthetic Nitrogen gas to tech enthusiasts . All of which underlined the need for diversification of energy needs. The theme emerged as there is a need for Logical sustainable solutions, Different energy systems needs new ways of innovations that are inspired by the Users. The need of the hour is that Science, innovation and government policy should work together and the things will start to happen.

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