Editorial Team

Indian Institute of Technology Madras is organizing an ‘IITM Energy Summit’ from 14th to 16th December 2021 to enable the Global Transformation to a Low Carbon Future through Industry-Academic Collaboration.

During this summit, IIT Madras also launched a Global Energy Consortium to boost the progress towards the transformation to a Low Carbon Future.

With over 50 faculty having significant expertise and contributions on the world stage via technologies and highly cited research publications, the Consortium will work in close collaboration with Industry on areas such as carbon capture and storage, gas hydrates, renewable energy systems and beyond lithium energy storage technologies.

Speaking on the topic of ‘Energy for Aatmanirbhar India’ during the inaugural session of ‘IITM Energy Summit’ on Tuesday (14th December 2021), Prof. K. VijayRaghavan, Principal Scientific Advisor to Government of India, said, “About Aatmanirbhar, my interpretation is one that you are not dependent on supply chains which, if broken, throttle you. It is a requirement for a country this size to have a basal level of capability and capacity and the ability to implement this capacity constantly either in emergencies or in a routine process.”

Ms. Sarah Kirlew, Australian Consul General, Chennai

Further, Prof. VijayRaghavan said, “This does not mean that there is no link with the outside world, quite the opposite. One needs to have an extraordinary link with the outside world but this is an inter-dependence of a kind where no one will cut each other’s supply chains because they see the value in the other persons role in the supply chain. This requires network modelling and analysis where there are nodes which are inter-dependent on each other but no node which is so powerful that its absence or its reduction will cause problems for other nodes at a short time.”

Prof. K. VijayRaghavan said, “Future Generations will pay for the goods we enjoy today. That is, frugal high quality goods for mass consumption will be made exploiting the environment, having a workforce somewhere which is also used, markets elsewhere and they are cheap, of high quality and lasting because we are not paying attention to the environment or to the future generations. This has been a constant hedging of our developments over the last 150 years. This has now come to a precipice.”

“There are two solutions to this problem – Scientific and Technological. The technological solutions are the availability of energy, whether it is nuclear, solar, wind or hydrogen, we need to have energy available in an environmental form, which is not damaging, easy to get and a combination of centralized and decentralized mechanisms, and one of the pioneers of that has been IIT Madras lead by Prof. Ashok Jhunjhunwala. The second aspect is that because of improvements in quality of power transistors, we today can have motors which can drive on low DC current, in a manner which was unthinkable many, many years ago. This, again, has been pointed out by people from IIT Madras. These Two aspects are the points we need to keep in mind when we talk about Aatmanirbhar Bharat and Energy,” added Prof. K. VijayRaghavan.

Prof. Ashok Jhunjhunwala, President, IITM Research Park

India’s energy challenges are problems without borders, requiring technology and engineering solutions. Technology solutions at scale in India are potentially global solutions. Industry-academia partnerships give power and momentum to such technology development. IIT Madras offered industry partners greater research productivity and cost advantage in comparison to peer institutions in India and globally.

Highlighting the ‘Indo-Australia partnership for a carbon-neutral world,’ Ms. Sarah Kirlew, Australian Consul General, Chennai, said, “This summit comes at a time when finding sustainable ways to use our energy reserves for global development and halting and addressing the impact of climate change are on top of the mind for many. I want to emphasise three key messages: Australia does have a strong domestic record of achievement in reducing emissions and a clear path to developing technology to do more; Second, we want to work with India to accelerate the transition to a clean energy global economy; And third, that partnership can go beyond just Australia and India to support vulnerable communities to meet the challenge of climate impact including climate financing.”

Further, Ms. Sarah Kirlew said, “Australia’s Clean Energy Transition is happening at a world-leading rate. Today, we receive more than one-third of our power from renewable energy…Scale is a challenge we face that requires a collaborative global approach. It is natural that Australia and India should work on it together given the strength already in our trade relationship on energy and resources… There is continued linkage between our researchers. IIT Madras has six projects with Australian Institutions. Australia and India can work together to benefit our region. Australia has increased its international climate financing commitment to $ 2 billion over the next five years to help developing countries in our region tackle the impact of climate change.”

Prof. Raghunathan Rengaswamy, Dean (Global Engagement), IIT Madras

Delivering an address on ‘100% RE, where do we start?,’ Prof. Ashok Jhunjhunwala, President, IITM Research Park, said, “In terms of per capita greenhouse gas emissions, India is only 103 but given our population, we are the third largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world. As our GDP grows and as we get out of poverty, we will see that this number growing. In probably ten years’ time, we will be the second largest.”

Prof. Ashok Jhunjhunwala said, “IIT Madras Research Park, which spans 1.2 million Sq.Ft. of commercial/industrial complex, consumers 40 MWh power per day at Rs. 9.15 per kWh. We decided that we will take the lead by first showing that we can pretty much manage with near 100% Wind energy, or close to 90%. The IITMRP utilizes open access solar/wind generation combined with wheeling in through existing Transmission and Distribution lines. There is also local storage using chilled water and battery, which can bring the cost further to less than Rs. 8 kWh.”

IIT Madras has seven dedicated Research Initiatives working on the energy sector. These initiatives will form the core of the Global Energy Consortium. They will pursue cutting-edge interdisciplinary research and forge global networks to address India’s energy challenges.

Speaking on ‘IITM as an Institute of Eminence,’ Prof. Raghunathan Rengaswamy, Dean (Global Engagement), IIT Madras, said, “IIT Madras is the institute which has the largest amount of consultancy money coming into an Institute. Around Rs. 250 crore of Consultancy is done every year, which is about the largest number in all of India. That really tells you how some of the work that we do is really industrially important.”

Further Prof. Raghunathan Rengaswamy said, “At IIT Madras, We have started multiple research initiatives, including about 21 clusters where we have internally funded each of these projects to the tune of half a million dollars(~3.8 crores INR) so that they can pursue research in multiple areas. One of those areas is Energy. We have about seven Research Initiatives in the Energy cluster, which goes across the whole spectrum of research. We are trying to bring them together in terms of one large effort under the ‘IITM Global Energy Consortium,’ which is being launched during this summit. If we solve this problem for India, we solve this problem for the world.”

In his address in the Inaugural session, Dr. Nikhil Tambe, CEO – IITM Energy Consortium called for the development of partnerships to handle this global transformation in Energy Sector. Dr. Ashok Krishna, CTO – Energy Internet Corporation, Former VP – Chevron, spoke on ‘Outlook and the future of Oil and Gas.’ Dr. Vikram Rao, RTI International moderated a panel discussion on ‘Addressing grand challenges in Energy – A consortium approach.’

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