Students to Become Climate Change Warriors

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I n the last 50 years, the global energy demand has tripled. It is projected to triple again over the next 30 years. Energy demand worldwide grew by 2.3% in 2018 which was the highest in this decade because of the robust global economy and stronger heating and cooling needs in many parts of the world. Energy is driving our economies, and presently, all the nations of the world are competing to become a super economy. For this, they need to achieve high growth rates, which is directly dependent on their energy consumption which boosts the livelihood-related activities. On the one hand, we need energy to not only fulfill our daily energy needs, and on the other hand, the climate is changing at a rapid pace, and the world collectively needs to enact on it.

Solar Energy is the Way Forward

Solar energy has been nurturing the lives of millions of species on the planet for millions of years. Unlike fossil fuels, solar energy is more abundantly available. The planet receives 10,000 times more energy in the form of sunlight than the annual consumption of entire humanity in all possible forms. As argued earlier, the human existence on this planet has been there for a long time and we should design our energy generation and consumption system based on the infinite energy source, the Sun, and definitely not on the very finite fossil fuel-based energy sources. The solar energy that is being received on the Earth’s surface in enormous quantity can be converted into a form which is useful to us. Solar Technology has become so advanced that one can generate electricity directly from the sunlight by using the solar PV technology or Solar Photovoltaic Technology or Solar Cell Technology where the generation of electricity happens directly. When the sunlight falls on a solar cell or solar panel – it is like magic – one can get electricity on the ground. Hence, solar PV technology is becoming very much acceptable at a very large scale in every part of the world. It converts sunlight into electricity directly without any other intermediate steps. Besides this, solar photovoltaic technology can generate power into very small quantities as well as in very large quantities also. This is a very unique feature.

Furthermore, each block of the solar PV system, including the module, circuit, battery and loads are becoming more and more efficient and cost-effective. This has led to the enhancing of the overall commercial viability of the localized PV systems. Hence, solar technology has become viable and feasible to cater to the energy needs of human beings.

Gandhi Global Solar Yatra

Mahatma Gandhi has always propagated—“Not mass production but production by the masses”. It is high time that we pay gratitude and thus adopt Gandhian ideologies while celebrating the 150th Birth Anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. In order to find the solution to the current energy crisis, the idea of ‘Energy Swaraj’ has been conceptualized wherein communities generate and consume their own energy needs. To propagate the message of Energy Swaraj, the Gandhi Global Solar Yatra (GGSY) promoted self-sufficiency in energy for sustainability by providing complete, cost-effective, reliable, and sustainable solar energy access while protecting the environment, creating livelihoods, and empowering locals.

Students as Ambassadors

India is a young country with over 17% of the population between the age of 15 and 24 years. This is the population that will live for the next 40–50 years. In such a scenario, this population needs to be sensitized about the adverse effects of climate change and towards the need to ensure energy sustainability. Therefore, it is important to make the students as the solar ambassadors, as they will be the future bearers of energy and who will be bearing the maximum burden of climate change. To commemorate 150th Birth Anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi and promote the Gandhian idea of sustainable living, the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE), Government of India, in association with IIT-Bombay, organized the Global Student Solar Assembly on October 2, 2019. The day-long event at Indira Gandhi Stadium Complex, New Delhi saw participation from around 5000 students from across the institutions from NCR and Delhi. In addition to the event at New Delhi, similar events were organized in other Indian cities and also in other countries. Hon’ble Union Minister (Environment, Forest & Climate Change), and (Information & Broadcasting), Shri Prakash Javadekar; Hon’ble Minister of State (IC) (Power, New & Renewable Energy) and Minister of State (Skill Development and Entrepreneurship), Shri R K Singh; and Shri Anand Kumar, Secretary, MNRE graced the occasion.

Article contributed by Dr Chetan S Solanki, Professor, Department of Energy Science and Engineering, IIT Bombay. PI, Solar Urja through Localization for Sustainability (SoULS) and National Center for Photovoltaic Research and Education (NCPRE).