JAIPUR – The importance of solar energy goes beyond sustainability and energy security, argues urban planner and architect Ashok Bhalotra. “In the context of international power relations, it is very important not to be dependent of other countries for energy supply – now and in the far future.”
As ambassador of KuiperCompagnons, a Dutch urban design office, Bhalotra has experience all over the world and sustainability is a reoccurring theme in his work. The company has recently been involved in the redevelopment of Mekka, a project in which solar energy is widely used despite the high amounts of oil available here.
“Even in the oil-rich Middle East, there is a growing realization that sustainable energy is just better and to keep the oil under the ground provides for longer term energy security and independence”, Bhalotra says.
Famous for his involvement in the development of the Dutch 'Sun City' in Heerhugowaard, the world's first carbon-neutral city, Bhalotra is currently heading a consortium of companies designing a complete new city in Rajasthan, as part of the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor. Models used in the ‘Sun City’, which fully integrated solar PV into its architecture, can be replicated here, he believes.
Ashok Bhalotra will share his expertise and vision at the conference The Solar Future India II, which will be held in Jaipur at 29 February. Other high level internationally renowned speakers include Ravindra Raina, President of India operations for Astonfield, currently spearheading the renewable energy programme; Ravi Khanna, CEO of the Solar Power Business of the Aditya Birla Group; Jigar Shah - CEO, Carbon War Room; and Vishal Shah - Managing Director & Senior Analyst Alternative Energy, Deutsche Bank; amongst others.
The event is organized by Solarplaza, a Netherlands based information platform for international solar energy stakeholders that organizes conferences worldwide. The registrations received to date already prove that, as with all former Solar Future conferences, the level of attendance is exceptionally high. Current registered attendees include 22 percent Presidents/CEOs, 17 percent Vice Presidents and 33 percent Directors.
All speakers have in common that their wide and global experience allows them to look beyond the goals and potential of the current National Solar Mission.
“Look at how much wind energy has progressed in recent years”, Ravi Khanna says. “Solar has much more potential. Ones the first milestone has been reached, local entrepreneurs will step in and bring all advantages to the entire country. Solar energy will be used in much more than electricity generation for the grid. A lot of commercial applications will come up, such as for cold food storage and steam creation for drying agriculture.”
Ravindra Raina argues that the experience in other countries has proved that the government has a very important role in reaching that first milestone, which he calls the ‘critical mass’ of a 10GW capacity. “But after that capacity is in place, marked forces will take over. The same has happened in Germany, for example”, Raina says, adding that he expects that the 10GW capacity to be reached in India within five years.”
Bhalotra, too, while acknowledging the importance of government support, sees a positive role of Indian citizens in the growth of the solar energy. “For a growing number of middle class citizens, getting richer is no longer enough. I have already seen the consciousness grow a lot in the past year. The demand for clean energy will surely grow together with the technological potential.”
Other speakers at The Solar Future India II conference, which will take place on 29 February in Jaipur, include Mario Zen - Vice President Business Development, LDK Solar; Xavier Daval - Founder & CEO, KiloWattsol; Srinivas Nagabhirava - Managing Director Asia/Middle East, AES Solar Energy; Gaurav Sood - Managing Director, Solairedirect Energy India Private Limited; Madan Mohan Vijayvergia - Director (Technical) & Executive Director, Rajasthan Renewable Energy Corporation (RREC); and Edwin Koot - CEO, Solarplaza.
Attention to international trends as well as local issues, internationally renowned experts and an informal networking atmosphere gives the event a unique character.