March 14, 2012
School of Engineering, Coimbatore
Dr. K. Kalyana Sundaram, Senior Scientist at the Lab for Photonics and Interfaces at EPFL (École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Switzerland), was a plenary speaker at the pre-conference workshop during the Second International Conference on Renewable Energy: Resources, Challenges & Opportunities.
During his talk, Dr. Sundaram outlined renewable energy resources including the sun, wind, moving water, biomass, and the earth’s heat (geothermal).
“We have enormous potential in India. India gets solar radiation of 5-8 kWh per metre squared every day. Solar alone can produce 127500 terawatt (TW) of energy. Similarly wind can give 19 TW, biomass can provide 7-9 TW, geothermal about 2.5 TW, tidal 3.6 TW and hydroelectric can give us 2 TW of energy. We have to efficiently tap these resources,” the speaker said.
Highlighting various types of solar cells that are used to generate energy, Dr. Sundaram spoke about third generation cells including dye sensitized cells, polymer organic cells, multi junction or tandem cells.
Providing examples, he listed the solar-powered kitchens at Tirupati and Shirdi that feed tens of thousands of people daily as well as solar thermal water purification and desalination plants in India.
Providing yet other examples of other forms of renewable energy installations, he mentioned that the wind energy generation capacity of Muppandal in Tamil Nadu is estimated to be around 1,500 MW, or about 20% of the wind power potential in India.
“Due to increased turbine sizes, and advances in research and development and improvements in the manufacturing sector, the cost of wind power has decreased from 40 cents per kWh to 3-4 cents per kWh,” Dr. Sundaram informed.
Other energy sources discussed by the speaker included biomass, biogas and biodiesel. “Biomass already supplies 14 % of the world’s primary energy consumption. On an average, biomass accounts for 38 % of the primary energy used in developing countries,” he pointed out.
Tapping energy from geothermal sources deep inside the earth and from hydrogen was also discussed. The speaker noted the risks involved with nuclear power technology.
Also speaking at the pre-conference workshop was Amrita’s Dr. Sriram Devananthan, who asked the rhetorical question, “Is sustainable development an oxymoron?”
“Conventional development has mostly succeeded in bringing about a giant divide between the rich and poor. With finite resources and growing economies and populations, sustainable development may be a difficult goal. If one understands growth patterns, it will help us to better anticipate the social, economic and environmental impact of that growth,” he said.
“There are no readily available solutions that can curb such exponential growth patterns. But one can surely rely on renewable resources to ensure eco-friendly solutions for the energy problem,” he concluded.
Renewable Energy: Resources, Challenges & Opportunities
Inaugural Speeches at Renewable Energy Conference
Wind Power Discussion at Conference
Solar Energy Discussions at Conference
Energy Derived from Biomass