Curriculum for Renewable Energy

Energy is a critic al component in the development of any country and more so in the context of the developing countries. Rapid industrialization is very often hampered inadequate energy availability. Communications, health, shelter and other basic needs of the society are also very much restrained by inadequate availability of energy at several phases sometimes to such an extent that it even brings the whole process of planning in that sector to a stand still position.

The price of Energy is another factor which makes it affordable or otherwise particularly to the poorer segments of the society. In many situations it is very difficult to mention the price at which energy can be sold while the cost of generation can be somewhat precisely determined. Many strategies are needed to work in unison with components of development objectives to determine the price at which energy can be made affordable. Conventional Hydro Power and Thermal Energy (from coal) had played a very important role in the industrial development of the West and also to certain extent in the developing countries of the Asia Pacific region. However, the oil crisis starting from 1973 had brought to focus that renewable energy sources have a very important role to play since the price of a non-renewable source could be changed often adversely to the developmental interests of the poorer countries.

In looking at the renewable sources of energy Hydro Power has appeared as a very important source and also it has the added benefit of being a source of clean Energy. On the other hand, exploitation of Hydro Power is seriously restricted due to the availability of infinite Hydro Power location; and it is here alternative sources of renewable energy have appeared to offer possibilities to meet specific needs in the countries of the region.

Often the technologies relating to the other sources of energy are not so well developed and fine-tuned to have a high degree of efficiency in utilization. However, if one were to look at the economic cost and the way some of these can be suitably priced it becomes apparent that many of the alternative sources of energy are already in a position to compete with conventional energy sources. Solar Energy and Wind Energy appear as natural sources of such renewable energy options and these have been used in many countries somewhat successfully. On the other hand, there are many other sources of alternative energy forms such as Biomass, Bio fuels, Hydrogen Energy and the like which when developed could have an importance role in meeting the energy needs in the countries of the region. One of the constraints that had been experienced in the utilization of such renewable sources of energy is the availability of trained engineering personnel who could look at the problem from different angles such as basic principles, designs and engineering features, potential for applications, economic considerations and maintenance of installations and equipment's.

In the light of this appreciation GTZ had considered that introduction of well graded courses relating to renewable energy sources cold go a long way in building the human resource potential of the countries of this region and in particular India, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka. The GTZ engaged the Waterfalls Institute of Technology Transfer to organize a workshop to examine the possibilities of introducing such programme at the levels of under graduates and graduates in the various institutions in the four countries. During this Workshop various subjects of potential utility in the field of renewable energy sources were examined and the participants coming from reputed institutions examined the possibilities of having some appreciation of the different requirements of these countries at different levels of education. Such institutions included Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET), Bangladesh Institute of Technology, Islamic Institute of Technology in Bangladesh; Tribhuvan University, Kathmandu University and RECAST in Nepal; Indian Institute of Technology at Delhi, Bombay, Madras, Kharagpur and Kanpur; Indian Institute of Science Bangalore, Anna University Madras, Pondicherry University, Guru Nanak Dev University in India; University of Peradeniya, University of Moratuwa and the NERD Centre in Sri Lanka.

The participants very liberally provided a large volume of information, technical and laboratory oriented problems and exchanged them freely at this Workshop held in April 1995. This Workshop also benefitted from the inputs of the work done by the Oldebburg University in Germany, papers and materials presented by Prof. Duckers of the University of Coventry, UK and Prof. Charters of the University of Melbourne, Australia. The Waterfalls Institute of Technology Transfer compiled all the information that was collected and sought financial assistance of the Ministry of Non-Conventional Energy Sources to bring out the proceedings of the Workshop. The Institute is very thankful to the kind consideration given by the Ministry and in particular by Dr Ved Mitra of the Solar Energy Centre in providing generous support to bring out this publication. This work titled "Proceedings of the Workshop" is briefly structured into the following sections.

Section 1 deals with a report of the Workshop; it had highlighted therein that it will be very difficult to incorporate a graduate degree programme or even an undergraduate degree programme or even an undergraduate degree programme in the subject meeting the requirements of the 4 countries who participated. It had suggested that modules on different subject should be prepared so that any institutions can take advantage of a combination of a chosen set of modules of provide adequate level by imparting knowledge in a chosen area. These lecture modules are thus mainly a start and guide for the Teachers to be engaged in this activity.

The second section of the report gives excerpts of the inaugural address provided by the then Hon. MOS Mr Krishna Kumar and the excerpts from the valedictory address of the Chairman of the Board of Governors IIT Delhi, Prof P J Kurien who is now the Minister of State in the Ministry of Non-Conventional Energy Sources as well.

Section 3 provides background material for the conference in particular covering the fundamentals of the renewable energy system, its applications, meteorology and mathematical modelling and econmic analysis of the energy systems.

Section 4 provides the country papers provided by the lead participants from each country, namely Dr Aminul Hoque from Bangladesh, Dr Kothari from India, Prof Shrestha from Nepal and Mr Victor Mendis from Sri Lanka

Section 5 of the proceedings gives an abridged version of special lectures that were delivered at the Workshop including those by Dr Charters, Prof Mathur, Dr Shukla, Mr Mendis, Prof Duckers and Dr Udesh Kohli.

The sixth section provides the full texts of a few selected papers which were exchanged at the meeting. It was not an easy job to select a limited number of papers from the material made available at the Workshop. However, keeping the limits imposed by the financial inputs for bringing out the proceedings, some selection had not be made this had concentrated on retaining by and large those subjects on which considerable interest had been shown during the Workshop.

The concluding section provides the modules which were adopted at the Workshop as constituting basic units on which curriculum could be elaborated to benefit the students and the teachers who would be engaged in taking renewable energy sources farther and farther into the nooks and corners of these countries in the years ahead.

The Institute wishes to place on record its thanks to GTZ for entrusting the organisation of the conference to WITT. Special thanks are due to authors who made technical material available for being freely exchanged at the Workshop. Thanks are also due to the Ministry of Non-Conventional Energy Sources for its support in bringing out the proceedings of this Workshop. We are aware of some limitations in putting together a large volume of material received covering a very wide range of subjects in a short time for further dissemination. The Institute is hopeful that this initial volume will serve as a starter and more revised and elaborate material could be brought together in future volumes. The Institute will be happy to receive any comments on the contents and coverage of this volume and would use the same when bringing out subsequent editions of these proceedings in the future.

New Delhi 22 April 1996
Dr K V Swaminathan
Waterfalls Institute of Technology Transfer