An Exclusive Interview with Mr. Prafulla Pathak, Secretary General, Solar Energy Society of India

An Exclusive Interview with Mr. Prafulla Pathak, Secretary General, Solar Energy Society of India

EO: Kindly tell something about yourself to our viewers.

Mr. Prafulla Pathak: I’m Prafulla Pathak. I’m having an industry experience of 25 years in the power sector but at the same time, I have a passion that is Solar Energy. I’m Secretary General of Solar Energy Society of India. It was established in 1978. It was founded by the people who were in Institute of Science & Technology, IIT and NIT. They have that thought the solar energy was abandoned in our country. This was going waste and must be put in the service. Moreover this will be helpful to our country. To keeping this in view, all come together and with the aim of objective and propagation, popularization of use of solar energy, they form Solar Energy Society of India. Since then, the society is working for popularization, awareness of Solar Energy in India.


EO: What would you like to share about the past of Indian Solar Industry?

Mr. Prafulla Pathak: If we look at Solar Energy sector in India and particularly in last five years, the first thing which comes in front of us is, five years ago, the Government of India had some policies and statements to increase of usage of Solar Energy but at that time, Cost of Solar and tariff was way too high as compared to present. So Industry had a doubt of its price. As tariff came down, Industry started attracting towards Solar Industry. In 2014, Government of India launched new policies. They set some new targets. So that in result, World came to know, India is witnessing a huge change in Solar Industry. They had started business in India in terms of foreign funding, technology. We had experienced this change in last 5 years.


EO: How do you see Government Initiative to achieve 24×7 Power for All by March 2019? Your comment on this.

Mr. Prafulla Pathak: In 1947, we had only 1000 MW capacity and 5-7 years ago, we had 1, 30,000 MW capacity. Now, we have 2, 40,000 MW capacity. The capacity addition gradually increases in this time period. The Government initiative 24×7 Power for All is somehow the main reason for this. The Power we are gaining for Fossil Fuels, Wind Energy and Hydro Energy. The policy for Solar is the root for such big targets which Government has set. We have achieved target of 20 GW much earlier than it actually decided. Government is taking several steps to achieve a new target of 175 GW. Indian Industry is also doing a great job. There was a time When 1 MW plant was a big deal for us. But now we have also installed 1 GW plant. That’s why solar tariff has now reached to a low price as compared to earlier price. Power utilities are also interacting with solar. In a day, when we require much electricity, Then Solar plays a crucial role.

An Exclusive Interview with Mr. Prafulla Pathak, Secretary General, Solar Energy Society of India

EO: The Government of India has set a target of 175 GW Renewable Power installed capacity by the end of 2022, which include 100 GW from Solar Power. What needs to be done to achieve this target?

Mr. Prafulla Pathak: The Government of India has set a target of 100 GW from Solar in which they have bifurcated this target to Solar Parks, Solar Plants installation, Rooftop Solar, Government Authorities such as AAI and civilians. The Government of India has already achieved its previous targets. The Government of India and Corporates are also funding these projects. The main thing is People should also take interest in Solar Power. The cost of Solar installation is not that much high now. Public participation is the necessary part to achieve this target. If we achieve 70-80% of this target, this will be a great achievement for us.


EO: Do you see any opportunity in Rural Electrification Programme of Indian Government for Solar Module Manufacturers?

Mr. Prafulla Pathak: Power supply is a big problem in Rural Area of our nation. The transmission of Power to rural areas is costly. But the Solar power is cheap to transmit Power to Rural Areas if we install Solar Power Plant in Rural Areas. It is much easier to supply power to the rural area itself where a solar power plant is installed. Many states are also doing this. By doing this, Power distribution is much easier than the earlier scenario which we were following. There are a lot of advantages of installing Solar Power Plants. Many states and even Centre Govt. are doing this projects. Rural Electrification will help not only rural areas, it will also help City Industries.


EO: How do you see International Funding in Solar Industry?

Mr. Prafulla Pathak: As you already know, we have a target of 100 GW from Solar Power. To achieve this, Funding is the most important part. Domestic Banking sector is already funding this. When we set these big targets, many foreign companies want to grab this opportunity. So they started funding in Indian Renewable Energy Industry. Apart from that, Many Foreign banks has also shown interest in this. Their rate of interest is much lesser than ours. This will create a big advantage for us. These funding will be helpful for us to achieve our target.


EO: Are the Government Policies helpful in promoting rooftop solar in India?

Mr. Prafulla Pathak: We have gained a good position due to Government Policies and Mission. Government can analysis all the policies, support which are helpful to promote rooftop solar. The difficulties which industrialist are facing can be solved. So that newcomers can come in this field. Government has already set a roadmap to promote this. The participation of policymakers will also benefit this to achieve 100 GW solar power target.


EO: Can India become a super power in solar industries, do we have potential for same and what you expect from Government for this?

Mr. Prafulla Pathak: We have achieved a lot in this industry. Now we are sharing our knowledge, implementations to world. This industry has also created a job opportunity for our people. Our past targets has taught us knowledge, expertise of the renewable energy sector. We have done a lot of work on difficulties and solutions of this industry. In result, we have now a skilled manpower. Indian and France have created an Alliance named International Solar Alliance so that we can show our knowledge in other countries. There are many countries which are looking for Solar Power and other renewable energy resources. We have an opportunity to do business in these countries and show them our expertise. Our young generation must grab this opportunity.


EO: Can we create more jobs in solar industries for youth, as like in IT & other sectors?

Mr. Prafulla Pathak: Yes, Solar Industry can create more jobs. Rooftop Solar is new for us and we are aiming to target household. If tariff goes down, then there are more chances People will use Rooftop solar? This is somehow can become bigger sector than IT. So young India must grab this opportunity.


EO: As Solar being pollution free source of energy, how do you encourage use of Solar Energy?

Mr. Prafulla Pathak: We have a giant resource of Solar Energy. So we must use the benefit of Solar Power. If we check our history, from the starting, we have given importance to Sun. Apart from that, our daily life activities also starts from Sun. Our young generation can innovate new technology to use solar energy in different forms. We can use this in different sectors like Agriculture, Food Processing Industries.


EO: What are the efforts made by the solar energy society of India about the members?

Mr. Prafulla Pathak: The members of Solar Energy Society of India are majorly from the Academics. The reason may be it was founded 40 years back. The researchers from NIT, IIT and other institutes came together and founded Solar Energy Society of India. At that time, we also wanted to explore and promote Solar Energy. The Governing Council of Solar Energy Society of India is also checking the Aims and Objectives forward. With this, we intend to go to the HRD department of Government of India wherein we can request HRD department to have some scheme for the students in Universities. Anyone who is interested in Solar Technology can take part in this. For this, The Solar Energy Society of India has come up with a new concept where we want to be a catalyst in interacting The Students, The Researchers, The Professors, The Professionals from the Solar Energy, Professionals from other sectors, The Developers and The Installers.


About Solar Energy Society of India

The Solar Energy of India (SESI), established in 1978, having its Secretariat in New Delhi, is the Indian Section of the International Solar Energy Society (ISES). Its interests cover all aspects of renewable energy, including characteristics, effects and methods of use, and it provides a common ground to all those concerned with the nature and utilization of this renewable non-polluting resource.

The Society is interdisciplinary in nature, with most of the leading energy researchers and manufacturers of renewable energy systems and devices of the country as its members. High academic attainments are not a prerequisite for membership and any person engaged in research, development or utilization of renewable energy or in fields related to renewable energy and interested in the promotion of renewable energy utilization can become a member of the society.

The Society is administered by its Governing a Council of twenty members elected once in two years, consisting of the President, six Vice Presidents, a Treasurer, a Secretary General and 11 members of whom one is the immediate past President. The council meets two or three times in year. The Annual General Meeting of the members is normally held at the time of the International Congress on Renewable Energy (ICORE).

Day to day administration is provided by the Society Secretariat headed by the Director General.

Regions in which sufficient interest exists, regional or local chapters of the Society have been/can be established.

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