‘Energy Swaraj Yatra’ reaches Thiruvananthapuram

Prof. Chetan Singh Solanki (centre) with the CSIR-NIIST officials in Thiruvananthapuram on Friday:

Prof. Chetan Singh Solanki (centre) with the CSIR-NIIST officials in Thiruvananthapuram on Friday:

There is a need for a ‘‘drastic and immediate’‘ change in energy usage patterns for tackling global warming and climate change, says Chetan Singh Solanki, the IIT Bombay professor known as the ‘Solar Man of India’.

‘’But are we taking drastic and immediate action? The reality is that CO2 emissions are increasing,’‘ Prof. Solanki said on Friday, speaking on ‘Climate Change, Energy Swaraj and I’ at the CSIR-National Institute for Interdisciplinary Science and Technology (NIIST) where the Energy Swaraj Yatra led by him was given a reception by the CSIR thematic group on energy conversion and related devices.

Currently on unpaid leave from IIT Bombay, Prof. Solanki is the brand ambassador of solar energy for Government of Madhya Pradesh and is founder of the Energy Swaraj Foundation. He has undertaken a 11-year-long (2020-2030) Energy Swaraj Yatra on a ‘solar bus’.

The yatra, which began in November 2020 from Mumbai, is designed to create a public movement towards 100% adoption of solar energy. The ‘solar bus’ reached Thiruvananthapuram after covering 18,000 km across nine states. Prof. Solanki’s ‘mobile home’ is equipped with 3.2 kW solar panels and 6 kWh of battery storage. It also has a 3 kVa inverter. The bus runs on diesel, but all lights, cooler, cookstove, and other appliances inside it are solar-powered.

On Friday, Prof. Solanki urged his audience to surrender their electricity connections and switch to solar energy. ''At some point, do it. That is the only way to survive,'' he said. After 1950, global energy use has grown exponentially and 80-85% of it is contributed by fossil fuels. The planet is warmer by 1.1 degrees Celsius compared to the pre-industrial era, calling for drastic measures to limit warming to, ideally, 1.5 degree Celsius. Once this threshold is crossed, the changes will be irreversible. ''1.5 degrees is the 'Lakshman Rekha','' he said.

For switching fully to solar energy, Prof. Solanki advises a three-step approach—’Avoid, Minimise, Generate’. “Avoid use of energy as much as possible even if it is solar energy. If you can’t avoid the use of energy, minimise its use through use of efficient appliances. Step 3, generate energy locally. Energy Swaraj is about distributed production,’‘ he said.

There were two important ''laws'' that needed careful study, he said. In an ecosystem of finite resources, there could only be finite consumption. And, two, in an ecosystem of finite resources, there would have to be distributed production. ''Limit your consumption, localise your production,'' he said.

Prof. Solanki undertook the Energy Swaraj Yatra after an international trip convinced him that very little was being done constructively to mitigate global warming. But for ‘Energy Swaraj’ to succeed, government action alone would not suffice, he said. Underscoring the importance of energy literacy, he said individuals and institutions would have vital roles in it.

CSIR thematic group coordinator Dr. Narayan Unni and Dr. Elizabeth Jacob, scientist, NIIST, also spoke on the occasion.

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Printable version | Oct 2, 2022 9:04:25 am |