Non-conventional energy will be the ultimate source of energy for mankind in the near future as the conventional energy sources are depleting fast and will not last for eternity. Non-conventional sources like energy harnessed from sun, wind, tidal wave, fuel cell, bio-mass, geo-thermal energy, Magneto-hydro dynamic system etc. have to be adopted in large scale so as to reduce the ill effect of conventional energy sources like high carbon emission, green house effect, global warming etc. Out of all the Non-conventional energy sources, the energy obtained from the Sun is the most abundant source of energy and has the capacity to replace the conventional energy sources. 

The Sun is the life-giver to our planet. India is endowed with vast solar energy potential. About 5,000 trillion kWh per year energy is incident over India’s land area with most parts receiving 4-7 kWh per sq. m per day. Solar photovoltaics power can effectively be harnessed providing huge scalability in India. Solar photovoltaics also provide the ability to generate power on a distributed basis and enables rapid capacity addition with short lead times. 

Off-grid decentralized and low-temperature applications is advantageous from a rural electrification perspective and meeting other energy needs for power and heating and cooling in both rural and urban areas. From an energy security perspective, solar is the most secure of all sources, since it is abundantly available. 

Theoretically, a small fraction of the total incident solar energy (if captured effectively) can meet the entire country’s power requirements. Solar energy based decentralized and distributed applications have benefited millions of people in Indian villages by meeting their cooking, lighting and other energy needs in an environment friendly manner. 

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The social and economic benefits of solar energy include reduction in drudgery among rural women and girls engaged in the collection of fuel wood from long distances and cooking in smoky kitchens, minimization of the risks of contracting lung and eye ailments, employment generation at village level, and ultimately, the improvement in the standard of living and creation of opportunity for economic activities at village level.

Further, solar energy sector in India has emerged as a significant player in the grid connected power generation capacity over the years. It supports the government agenda of sustainable growth, while, emerging as an integral part of the solution to meet the nation’s energy needs and an essential player for energy security.

The Government of India (GoI) in order to achieve India’s National Action Plan on Climate Change with National Solar Mission launched the National Solar Mission (NSM) on 11th January, 2010. NSM is a major initiative of the Government of India with active participation from States to promote ecological sustainable growth while addressing India’s energy security challenges. It will also constitute a major contribution by India to the global effort to meet the challenges of climate change. The GoI has released its roadmap to achieve 175 GW capacity in renewable energy by 2022, which includes 100 GW of solar power and 60 GW of wind power. In coming years there will be abundance of clean energy from renewables with the quality of energy will also take equal importance. The Union Government of India is preparing a ‘rent a roof’ policy for supporting its target of generating 40 gigawatts (GW) of power through solar rooftop projects by 2022.

Recently, India achieved 5th global position in solar power deployment by surpassing Italy. Solar power capacity has increased by more than 11 times in the last five years from 2.6 GW in March, 2014 to 30 GW in July, 2019.  Presently, solar tariff in India is very competitive and has achieved grid parity.

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Scopes for Electrical Engineers in Non-conventional energy sector

Nothing in this world is as bright as the sun and the future of those will be bright who can harness the power of the sun. Electrical engineers has the ability to create a change as they have the knowledge and skills to make a difference in this world and secure a bright future for themselves. In this regard, opportunities are being created by GoI in several sectors. 

According to Ministry of Power Government of India, the Indian power sector has an investment potential of Rs 15 trillion in the next 4–5 years, thereby providing immense opportunities in power generation, distribution, transmission, and equipment. 

Thus, with the fast-changing technology, electrical engineers have a bright future ahead, to work in various fields of power industry and research. They will have the opportunity to work in renewable and non-renewable plants. Installation of solar and wind power plants will provide ample scopes to these engineers based on the fact that the Government of India has set a deadline to achieve 175 GW capacity in renewable energy by 2022. However, with the advent of the pandemic situation, the deadline will be further extended. 

To create skilled manpower in the field of solar energy particularly in view of huge demand of trained persons to install, operate & maintain the SPV system under the National Solar Mission, GoI has already launched Suryamitra Skill Development Programme in 2015 and assigned the task of coordination of the trainings to National Institute of Solar Energy (NISE) for creating skilled manpower for employment in Solar Power Projects with a target to develop 50,000 Suryamitras by 2019-2020 for the country. 

The programme follows the Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship norms. So far 31,092  no.of Suryamitras have been trained upto 31st March , 2019.

Roof-top solar panel installation will provide good scope for electrical engineers in terms of being entrepreneurs. Electrical engineers also will have a good opportunity in consumer products such as energy saving air-conditioners and LED bulbs and tubes. As of April 28, 2018 about 100 per cent village electrification has been achieved under Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana. There are also huge scopes in rural area electrification and maintenance, renewable power source installation and in solar based cooking. 

Electric vehicle and hybrid vehicle are the near future of automobile industry. Electrical engineers have a huge opportunity to take on in the automobile sector, specially in the design of drive system, battery system or hybrid system to be used in these vehicles.

The scopes of Electrical engineering in the solar energy sector is huge. However, it may not be possible to mention all scopes and opportunities. Only few schemes and opportunities have been mentioned. However, more on this topic will be discussed in future articles.

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Dr. Sandip Bordoloi

Associate Professor Girijananda Chowdhury Institute of Management and Technology