PAIRVI and Beyond Copenhagen (BCPH) organized a brainstorming session on “Challenge of Producing Sustainable Energy” on 10th April 2018 at IIC Annexe, New Delhi. The session was chaired by SoumyaDutta of BCPH and key speakers were RistoIsomaki, environmental activist from Finland and Prof. P.Sudhakar from Haritha Association for Learning from Environment. It was attended by many students from IIT Delhi and others were from civil society organizations.
RistoIsomakipresented the potential of Solar Energy and challenges in producing energy sustainability. He started by remarking on lack of discussion on threats like heat waves. In 2010, around 14000 people were killed by heat waves in France. He said that last few decades could be called as first Solar Power Revolution and we are in the beginning of second solar power revolution. Solar power revolution is taking place at a faster rate. Price of solar panels has reduced drastically and their installation cost has also come down. New thin film solar panels are efficient in producing power even after overheating.He highlighted two main problems associated with solar power, storage of excessive power generated and power fluctuation from solar panels.Extra solar power can be used forpumping water upstream in pumped storage hydropower. Lithium batteries are becoming cheaper which can be used to store power generated from decentralized solar panels. Governments and countries in many countries are planning to launch sodium batteries which can be used for 10 years. Another challenge faced in solar power production sustainability is that most of the R&D work in Solar power focuses on profit and research rarely focuses on the needs of the poor section.
Prof. Sudhakar presented challenges of energy in sustainability. He emphasized on economically sustainable ways of greening wastelands and how land should be leased instead of owning as leasing would obligate farmers to pass it on to the future generations in sustainable conditions. Ownership often causes depreciation and degradation of resources. He informed us about the social engineering Bamboo interventions in RCC (Reinforced Cement Concrete). Specific tensile strength of bamboo is greater than that of steel. He showcased how rotating wheels of a bullock cart can be used in producing energy. Similarly solar panels can be used for tri-generation, i.e. generation of electricity;waste heat produced can be used for heating water and other purposes.
S.Duttagave a brief overview of energy scenario in India and the world. Biomass produces 18% of total primary energy in the world. Globally, more than 80% of primary energy comes from fossil fuels while in India 86% comes from fossil fuels. He raised a few questions which should be considered during policy making and inception of large solar power plants. Questions were: Does energy transition involve people who have been displaced by thermal power plants or other projects of energy? There is no discussion on embedded energy (energy consumed during solar panel manufacturing).What would happen to the workers in oil or fossil fuel based industries after energy transition? Land acquisition is also a major issue for solar plants for example in state of Rajasthan people complain about losing their pasture land to solar plants.How far will our consumption levels go? Greenhouse Development Rights framework shows that more than 45% of the global population is overconsuming. These are the concerns need to be addressed globally.
The session ended with discussions on how integrated systems can be used to resolve conflict between use of land for agriculture and solar power and how this sector can generate more employment.