Skilling the Youth

Institutional training needed to create energy leaders of the future

By Professor Dr Padmakali Banerjee, Pro-Vice Chancellor and Dean Academics, Amity University, Gurugram

Each morning, the newspaper is replete with stories on global warming, pollution, greenhouse gas effects and others that create a not-so-appealing imagery of a crumbling environment that we are living in. Although it can be a daunting task to wake up to the realisation that we may be gasping for breath and may not have enough resources to live on, there is always scope for hope that rests on alternative energy sources or new and renewable sources like wind and solar energy. We are all aware that saving our environment is possible only through these alternative energy sources, which are cleaner, healthier and cheaper.

India is one of the world’s largest emitters of greenhouse gases and the growing number of vehicles and increasing industrialisation is only adding to the country’s woes. The time has come when all-round efforts need to be made to clean up the air and undertake damage control.

The government has now pledged to cut emissions and have a clean energy account for at least 40 per cent of its installed capacity by 2030, which will be an improvement over the 21.4 per cent at present.

To accomplish this ambitious plan, the government aims to add 500 GW of renewable energy to its electricity grid by 2030. It plans to clean up the air in its cities and reduce the dependence on coal for its rapidly growing economy. To begin with, the target is to install 175 GW by 2022, of which 100 GW will be through solar power.

To meet this target, we need solar equipment manufacturing support, which can only be accomplished if we have skilled manpower in large numbers to support these manufacturing plants. Every area of the renewable energy sector requires manpower, whether it is installation, design, operations, maintenance, manufacturing or marketing. Private and government institutions will have to pair up to create skilled manpower to meet this huge requirement.

Many private universities have come forward to include programmes relating to new and renewable energy in their undergraduate and postgraduate programmes. Our university offers two postgraduate programmes in solar and alternative energy for engineering and applied sciences students, with an objective to develop energy professionals who are sensitive to, and well aware of, energy issues and concerns and who can apply their specialised knowledge for sustainable energy management. The objective of the programme is to produce graduates who are well versed with energy resources, technologies and management fundamentals, and are capable of addressing present and potential energy problems. Open tracks of renewable energy courses are also offered to undergraduate students from different fields of engineering, sciences, management, commerce and communication to make them aware of the technology and its need. Students are exposed to the concept of energy-efficient technology. This is our small contribution, with a big impact, towards creating “future energy leaders”.

Government agencies such as the National Institute for Solar Energy have also partnered with many private institutes including Amity to introduce basic and advanced programmes in the solar energy domain. The government, through its skilling programme, has come up with funded programmes like the Suryamitra skill development programme to train the youth on solar PV installation with the objective of not only creating skilled technicians in solar panel installation but also making them employable. A significant number of students trained under the scheme have become entrepreneurs. Apart from being skilled youth, they are helping in creating awareness about solar power in smaller towns and villages in the country.

It is time to walk the talk and work rigorously towards cleaning our environment. The day is not far when we will probably have to pack an oxygen cylinder for our future generation, along with a tiffin box. The efforts of the government and private institutions are laudable, but there is still a lot to be done. If we have to grow and satiate our energy appetite, we must switch to a healthier and cleaner energy resource. The answer, to a great extent, lies in training our future generation and spreading awareness about the advantages of new and renewable resources.

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