Wind Turbines To Solar Tracking: Why IIT Madras Is The First Student Destination Of 2018

Posted by Shaastra Summit in Campus Watch
December 29, 2017

With alarming levels of pollution and the potential energy crisis, it is unquestionable that something needs to be done. While we are all aware of this serious issue, are we doing what’s necessary to alleviate the problem?

The current scenario of energy in India, especially rural India, is nothing to be proud of. There is still an estimated 240 million people in this country who do not have access to electricity. Remote locations and poor transport facilities have only made the challenge harder. Surprisingly, more than 67.3% of rural Indian households still use firewood for cooking. Also, 4.3 million people die every year from exposure to household air pollution. Basic needs such as access to the grid seem to be a big ask for a lot of us.

Solutions to these problems lie in renewable and decentralised energy. India has huge potential in this sector. Currently, India has the world’s seventh largest production capacity of solar energy and is making great progress in this field, having quadrupled its solar generation capacity from 2,650 MW in 2014 to 12,289 MW in 2017. Wind energy too has shown good progress and India currently stands fourth worldwide in wind energy capacity. All this has led to India setting itself an ambitious target of sourcing 175 gigawatts of energy from renewable sources.

While the government is frequently coming out with several renewable energy farms, a frequently overlooked topic is policies concerning green energy. As far as power generation is concerned, everyone is a consumer and a stakeholder – right from individuals to small businesses to large corporates to the government itself. Policies that incentivise the use of renewable energy should be strongly encouraged as not only does it save costs, in the long run, it also helps in reducing the carbon footprint of the company. Policies that support research on making green energy sources more viable and efficient would also be very beneficial for the cause.

The students at IIT Madras are attempting to understand this complex but essential sector of green energy by organising the Green Energy Summit during their annual technical festival, Shaastra that will happen from January 4, 2018, to January 7, 2018.

With over 1000 student registrations, only a selected group of 100 participants will witness and be a part of lectures, workshops, panel discussions, and so on spread over four days. The participants will be given the opportunity to interact with experts and hone their ideas. These events will be centred around giving participants the knowledge they need in going ahead with their desire to make a change in the field of green energy. This year, there will also be an open to all panel discussion on ‘Impact of Climate Change Policies on the Poor’.

This year, the Summit team is also conducting the ‘Rural Energy Challenge’. Participants have been working tirelessly over four months to build a green energy product to alleviate the energy problems of a village of their choice. Each participant has visited their target village multiple times, interacting with the people of the local community, village panchayats and listening to the issues they face. These teams then went back to the drawing board, redesigned their solutions, and then took their solution to the village and its people to check its feasibility and acceptance.

Participants of the Rural Energy Challenge meeting with village officials of Vitlapuram village, to understand their energy needs.

A few of the amazing products developed by the REC teams include:

– A Vertical Axis Wind Turbine: Present windmills face issues with handling winds coming from different directions. The Vertical Axis Wind Turbine addresses such issues dealing with fatigue on the shafts and the angle of attack on the blades.
– A Biomass Briquette: Biomass Briquette is a renewable, carbon-neutral and smokeless energy source obtained by compaction of Biomass.
– A Solar Tracking and Prioritizing System: Ensures that the solar potential of a region is utilised to the maximum using smart tracking systems.

India is on the brink of an energy transformation. With the government setting policies in place and aggressively adapting to renewable energy solutions, the stage is set for us to try and find ways to lift millions of citizens out of energy poverty. For this to happen effectively, it is up to us to reach out and help out those less fortunate than us.

At the Green Energy Summit, Shaastra 2018, this is exactly what the team has set out to do. The Rural Energy Challenge proves that all it takes to create a difference is the motivation to do so, and we encourage you to come down to Shaastra to educate and engage with the future for planet earth – green energy.

By Green Energy Summit team (Vamsi Krishna, Kaushik GV, Ramya Kannan, Advaith Sridhar,Varun Sairam, Sanjeev Parameswaran, Kushal Reddy, Kanish CB, Maurya Teja, Vishnu Harshith and Rishabh Verma)