Shri. Pamarty Venkataramana, widely known as PVR, holds the esteemed position of Chairman Emeritus at The Centre For Scientific and Industrial Research, where he spearheads and oversees groundbreaking research in greenfield technologies, covering diverse areas such as alternative energy, polymers, and agricultural techniques. In addition to his impressive role in the scientific community, PVR is a distinguished international corporate lawyer, a recipient of ambassador of peace awards, and a recognized figure in the realms of Law, Strategic planning, Human security studies, Philosophy, and Global Peace.
Possessing a plethora of accomplishments, PVR’s leadership extends across renowned Energy Utilities Sectors, where he has guided companies to new heights through his visionary stewardship. As a Head Guiding force, he has successfully executed major projects, imprinting an indelible mark on the industry. Notable among his achievements is his oversight of a Portuguese renewable energy project focused on solar photovoltaic technology, which entails developing solar farms across Europe with innovative tracking systems that follow the sun’s movement. Another groundbreaking project in the Netherlands involved implementing TriSolar technology in Agrivoltaics, a system that ingeniously combines agriculture and photovoltaic technology by adjusting the tracking system under greenhouse canopies based on the specific needs of plants.
PVR’s leadership prowess extends beyond project execution to the management and operation of diverse teams with industry-specific knowledge. His experience spans different states in India, where he has adeptly navigated the complexities of Power Purchase Agreements (PPA) and Group Captive segments.
A versatile professional, PVR holds qualifications as a Company Secretary, Chartered Accountant, Cost and Works Accountant, and Arbitrator. Opting to practice as an Advocate, he pursued a doctoral thesis on ‘Corporate and Criminal Jurisprudence,’ highlighting his commitment to legal scholarship. His service as Amicus Curae in the Supreme Court of India, particularly in cases involving encounters with gangsters in prison, underscores his dedication to justice.
Beyond his legal pursuits, PVR is a prolific writer and columnist for national and international publications, with notable contributions to the Jerusalem Post, India Link International UK, and Nepal Foreign Affairs. His advisory role extends to GOPIO, the Global Organization of People of Indian Origin, and other NRI bodies. Despite a packed schedule, PVR, also known as SriRamana, remains actively engaged in various projects, reflecting his unwavering commitment to advancing the field of green energy and contributing to sustainable development. His dedication, leadership, and diverse skill set make him a prominent figure in the global intersection of his work, as highlighted in an insightful interview conducted for Insight Convey.
In this exclusive interview, Shri. Pamarty Venkataramana, Chairman Emeritus at The Centre For Scientific and Industrial Research provides us with insights on the “Green Energy for sustainable development“.
Can you provide an overview of the current state of green energy adoption globally and its significance for sustainable development?
Global statistics reveal that a significant majority, surpassing 90%, of governments in numerous countries are actively investing in the efficient harnessing of green energy sources. Their aim is to formulate innovative models for sustainable economic and social development, with the primary objectives of curbing pollution levels and diminishing reliance on fossil fuel imports. This concerted effort reflects a shared recognition that the 21st century presents a dual challenge for both developing and emerging economies. On one front, there is a pressing need to provide basic, modern energy services to billions of people who still lack access. Simultaneously, these nations must engage in a broader global transition toward clean, low-carbon energy systems. It is evident that historical rates of progress in areas such as increased efficiency, de-carbonization, greater fuel diversity, and lower pollutant emissions must undergo substantial acceleration to meet these intertwined challenges effectively.
To a significant extent, fortunately, the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions may be aligned with the pursuit of other energy-related objectives, such as developing indigenous renewable resources and reducing local forms of pollution. In the near term, however, there will be tensions. Sustainable energy policies are more likely to succeed if they also contribute toward other societal and economic development objectives. Governments should look across policies to maximize positive synergies where they exist and avoid creating cost-cutting incentives.
Each year the stakes grow higher in the fight to save the environment and combat global warming. Now more than ever, we’re aware of the damaging effects that our current dependence on fossil fuels holds for our collective futures. One of the key solutions? Sustainable energy.
Fossil fuels (e.g. coal, natural gas and oil) are not only harmful to the planet when burned daily for energy, but they’re also unsustainable as finite resources. Sustainability refers to the concept that all people can meet their basic needs infinitely, without compromising future generations. Sustainability in terms of energy embraces the same principles.
Diversifying the energy mix with renewables enhances energy security by reducing reliance on imported fossil fuels and minimizing geopolitical risks associated with energy resources. The transition to green energy creates job opportunities in manufacturing, installation, maintenance, and research and development, contributing to economic growth. Green energy sources have fewer negative impacts on air and water quality compared to traditional energy sources, leading to improved public health.
How do you see the integration of smart technologies and artificial intelligence impacting the efficiency of green energy systems?
The integration of smart technologies and artificial intelligence stands as a transformative force poised to significantly enhance the efficiency of green energy systems. This synergy offers a multifaceted impact, revolutionizing various aspects of the energy landscape. One pivotal contribution lies in predictive analytics and forecasting, where AI algorithms adeptly analyze extensive datasets encompassing weather patterns, historical energy production, and consumption trends. This facilitates accurate predictions of renewable energy production, empowering grid operators to anticipate fluctuations and optimize energy distribution in real time.
Furthermore, the marriage of smart technologies and AI brings about a paradigm shift in energy management and grid optimization. Real-time monitoring and control capabilities enable dynamic grid adjustments, ensuring efficient energy distribution, minimizing wastage, and bolstering overall system reliability. With AI algorithms scrutinizing consumer behavior to dynamically adjust energy consumption patterns, promoting sustainable consumption practices and optimizing energy use during peak and off-peak periods.
In the realm of energy storage, AI assumes a pivotal role in optimization. Predicting demand patterns and managing the charging and discharging cycles of energy storage devices, contributing to the resilience of renewable sources, particularly those characterized by intermittency such as solar and wind. Predictive maintenance is another area where AI shines, identifying potential issues in renewable energy systems before they escalate, thereby reducing downtime, extending equipment lifespan, and enhancing overall system reliability. Beyond operational efficiency, the collaborative influence of smart technologies and AI contributes to cost reduction, making renewable energy more economically competitive with traditional sources.
The benefits extend to fostering innovation and continuous improvement. Machine learning algorithms, ingrained within the system, learn from real-time data, enabling an iterative process of enhancement in the performance and efficiency of green energy systems. In essence, the integration of smart technologies and AI emerges as a catalyst, propelling green energy systems towards resilience, adaptability, and efficiency, thereby playing a crucial role in the global transition toward a sustainable and low-carbon future.
What do you see as the most significant challenges facing the widespread adoption of green energy technologies, and how do you propose addressing them?
One of the foremost challenges is the intermittency and reliability issues associated with renewable sources such as solar and wind. The unpredictable nature of these sources results in fluctuations in power generation, making it essential to develop advanced energy storage technologies. Addressing this, ongoing research and development efforts, coupled with governmental support, can lead to improved batteries and storage solutions. Additionally, the promotion of a diversified energy mix incorporating various renewable sources can help mitigate the challenges posed by intermittency.
Another significant hurdle is the cost of energy storage technologies. While these technologies are integral for storing excess energy from intermittent sources, their current expense presents a barrier to widespread adoption. To tackle this, targeted investments in research and development are crucial. By incentivizing private sector involvement through government subsidies and incentives, we can stimulate innovation and drive down the costs of energy storage technologies, making them more economically viable for broader implementation.
Infrastructure and grid limitations represent a substantial challenge as well. Many existing energy grids are not adequately equipped to handle the integration of large-scale renewable energy sources. To address this, there is a need for substantial investments in grid modernization and upgrades. The development of smart grids, capable of efficiently managing and distributing energy from diverse sources, is pivotal for accommodating the variability associated with renewable energy.
Policy frameworks play a crucial role in overcoming these challenges. Governments need to implement supportive policies that encourage the adoption of green energy technologies. This includes regulatory measures that promote the integration of renewables into the existing energy landscape and financial incentives for both consumers and businesses to invest in sustainable practices.
Lastly, public awareness and engagement are essential elements of the transition to green energy. Educating the public about the benefits of renewable energy, fostering a sense of responsibility, and encouraging sustainable practices can drive demand for green technologies. This, in turn, creates a more conducive environment for the development and deployment of green energy solutions.
How do government policies and regulations impact the growth of green energy projects? Can you provide an example of a country with successful policies in this regard?
Government policies and regulations play a pivotal role in shaping the growth and success of green energy projects. Supportive policies are essential for creating a conducive environment for investment in green energy projects. Incentives such as feed-in tariffs, tax credits, and subsidies can significantly reduce the financial barriers associated with the initial costs of renewable energy installations. These mechanisms not only attract private investment but also encourage innovation and research and development in the renewable energy sector.
Conversely, inconsistent or unclear regulations can hinder the growth of green energy projects by creating uncertainty for investors. A lack of regulatory support may discourage long-term planning and investment in renewable projects. Additionally, unfavorable policies may result in a higher cost of capital for green energy projects, making them less competitive compared to traditional fossil fuel alternatives.
One noteworthy example of a country with successful policies promoting green energy projects is Germany. The German government has been a pioneer in implementing supportive measures to accelerate the transition to renewable energy, known as the “Energiewende.” Germany’s feed-in tariff system, introduced in the early 2000s, provided guaranteed payments for renewable energy producers, creating a reliable and attractive investment environment. This policy significantly contributed to the rapid growth of wind and solar power capacity in the country.
Furthermore, Germany’s commitment to phasing out nuclear power and reducing greenhouse gas emissions has been reflected in its comprehensive regulatory framework. The country’s Renewable Energy Act (Erneuerbare-Energien-Gesetz, EEG) established ambitious targets for the share of renewables in the energy mix, providing a clear roadmap for the expansion of green energy projects. As a result, Germany has become a global leader in renewable energy adoption, demonstrating the positive impact of well-designed government policies on the growth of sustainable energy initiatives.
From an economic perspective, how do you believe the transition to green energy will impact job markets and overall economic growth?
From an economic perspective, the transition to green energy is anticipated to have substantial impacts on job markets and overall economic growth. One of the primary drivers of employment growth in the green energy sector is the need for skilled workers in various domains, including manufacturing, installation, maintenance, and research and development. As traditional energy sources decline, there is a simultaneous rise in demand for workers skilled in renewable energy technologies, such as solar and wind power.
The renewable energy sector has the potential to create a significant number of jobs, fostering economic development. Investments in green energy projects contribute to the expansion of related industries, from the production of solar panels and wind turbines to the development of smart grid technologies. This, in turn, stimulates economic growth by creating employment opportunities across the supply chain. As governments and businesses invest in clean energy technologies, there is a growing demand for creative solutions and advancements. This dynamic environment encourages the emergence of new businesses and startups focused on renewable energy, energy efficiency, and sustainable practices.
However, it’s essential to acknowledge the potential for job displacement in traditional energy sectors. As the shift towards green energy accelerates, certain fossil fuel industries may experience workforce reductions. This underscores the importance of implementing comprehensive strategies to support the reskilling and retraining of workers in declining industries, ensuring a just transition for those affected.
Beyond the direct contributions of the renewable energy sector, the green transition also enhances energy security, reduces environmental externalities, and fosters technological innovation. These factors collectively contribute to the resilience and competitiveness of economies in the long run. The overall economic impact is positive, with the potential to drive job growth, spur innovation, and contribute to the development of a more sustainable and resilient economy. However, effective policies and measures are crucial to address potential challenges and ensure a fair and inclusive transition for all stakeholders.
Can you discuss the potential cost-effectiveness of green energy solutions compared to traditional energy sources?
The potential cost-effectiveness of green energy solutions compared to traditional energy sources is a complex and evolving aspect that varies across regions, technologies, and time frames. Historically, one of the main challenges for green energy has been its higher upfront costs compared to conventional fossil fuel technologies. However, advancements in technology, economies of scale, and supportive policies have been instrumental in narrowing this cost gap and, in some cases, making green energy more cost-effective.
Renewable energy technologies, particularly solar and wind, have witnessed significant cost reductions in recent years. The plummeting costs of solar photovoltaic (PV) panels and onshore wind turbines, in particular, have made them competitive with or even cheaper than traditional sources in many regions. These advancements have been driven by increased efficiency, improved manufacturing processes, and substantial investments in research and development.
Moreover, the falling costs of energy storage technologies, such as batteries, have addressed the intermittency issue associated with renewables, making them more reliable and further enhancing their cost-effectiveness. Energy storage allows for the storage of excess energy generated during peak production periods, which can then be used during periods of low renewable energy generation.
It’s crucial to consider the long-term economic benefits of green energy solutions. While the initial investment may be higher, green technologies typically offer lower operational and maintenance costs and are less susceptible to the price volatility of fossil fuels. As technology continues to advance and deployment scales up, the cost-effectiveness of green energy is expected to improve further.
On the other hand, traditional energy sources, particularly those reliant on finite fossil fuel reserves, may face increasing economic challenges. The extraction, transportation, and combustion of fossil fuels involve inherent environmental and geopolitical costs. Additionally, the long-term financial risks associated with fossil fuel dependence, including price volatility and supply chain disruptions, make them less economically attractive in the face of a rapidly changing energy landscape.
So the cost-effectiveness of green energy solutions compared to traditional sources has become increasingly favorable as the world transitions towards a more sustainable energy future, the economic viability of green energy is likely to continue improving, offering not only environmental benefits but also long-term economic advantages.
In your opinion, what areas of green energy research should be prioritized for maximum impact on sustainable development?
In shaping a research agenda for green energy with maximum impact on sustainable development, several key areas merit prioritization. First and foremost is the advancement of energy storage technologies. Efficient and cost-effective energy storage is critical for addressing the intermittent nature of renewable sources like solar and wind. Focused research on developing high-capacity and durable batteries, as well as exploring alternative storage solutions, will contribute significantly to the reliability and stability of green energy systems.
Another crucial area for prioritization is the enhancement of grid management and smart infrastructure. The integration of renewable energy into existing grids requires sophisticated control systems that can balance supply and demand dynamically. Research in this domain should focus on developing intelligent grid technologies, demand response systems, and predictive analytics to optimize energy distribution, reduce losses, and enhance overall grid resilience.
Innovations in materials science and engineering are essential for improving the efficiency and durability of renewable energy technologies. Research initiatives should explore new materials for solar panels, wind turbines, and energy storage systems, with an emphasis on sustainability, recyclability, and reducing the environmental impact of manufacturing processes.
Moreover, decentralized and distributed energy systems deserve attention. Research should explore the potential of small-scale renewable energy solutions, such as microgrids and community-based energy projects. These systems can enhance energy access in remote areas, promote local resilience, and contribute to a more decentralized and democratized energy landscape.
The development of next-generation renewable energy technologies is a key area that holds promise for impactful breakthroughs. This includes research in advanced photovoltaics, innovative wind turbine designs, and emerging technologies like tidal and geothermal energy. Investing in cutting-edge research will pave the way for more efficient and cost-competitive green energy solutions. By directing research efforts towards these areas, we can maximize the impact of green energy on sustainable development, addressing both the technical challenges and socio-economic dimensions of the transition to a more sustainable and resilient energy future.
What steps do you think should be taken to increase public awareness and understanding of the benefits of green energy for sustainable development?
Increasing public awareness and understanding of the benefits of green energy for sustainable development requires a multifaceted and targeted approach. One fundamental step is the implementation of comprehensive educational programs that cover the principles of renewable energy, its environmental advantages, and its potential to drive sustainable development. These programs should be integrated into school curricula, emphasizing the importance of a clean energy future from an early age.
Governments, NGOs, and industry stakeholders should engage in robust and accessible communication campaigns to demystify green energy technologies. Highlighting communities or regions that have successfully transitioned to renewable energy sources can serve as powerful demonstrations of the economic, environmental, and social advantages of embracing sustainable practices.
Public-private partnerships can also be instrumental in increasing awareness. Collaborative initiatives between government agencies, businesses, and non-profit organizations can amplify the impact of awareness campaigns. These partnerships can facilitate the development of outreach programs, workshops, and community engagement events to directly involve the public in discussions about the benefits and potential of green energy solutions.
Incentivizing green practices at the individual level is another effective strategy. By promoting inclusivity and encouraging diverse perspectives, these initiatives contribute to a broader understanding of the benefits of sustainable development. By making information accessible, relatable, and actionable, we can inspire a collective commitment to sustainable practices and drive the widespread adoption of green energy for a more sustainable future.
In your view, what emerging trends do you anticipate in the green energy sector in the next decade, and how might they shape the future of sustainable development?
Anticipating emerging trends in the green energy sector for the next decade involves considering ongoing advancements and the evolving landscape of sustainable technologies. As advancements in battery technologies and other storage methods progress, the ability to store excess energy generated from renewable sources becomes more efficient. This trend addresses the intermittent nature of solar and wind power, contributing to grid stability and resilience.
The rise of smart grid technologies is another significant trend that is likely to shape the future of the green energy sector. Enhanced grid management systems, supported by artificial intelligence and real-time data analytics, will enable more effective integration of renewable energy sources. Smart grids facilitate demand response mechanisms, optimize energy distribution, and improve overall grid efficiency, playing a crucial role in creating a flexible and adaptive energy infrastructure.
The use of smart sensors and connectivity in renewable energy assets enables remote monitoring, predictive maintenance, and real-time adjustments. This enhances the efficiency of green energy infrastructure also contributes to the development of smart cities and interconnected energy ecosystems.
In terms of technological innovation, the advancement of next-generation renewable energy technologies is likely to gain momentum. Breakthroughs in materials science, advanced photovoltaics, and novel approaches to harnessing energy from natural elements, such as tidal and geothermal sources, may reshape the energy industry. These innovations have the potential to make renewable energy more cost-effective and accessible on a global scale.
The electrification of transportation is an additional trend that will intersect with the green energy sector. The increasing adoption of electric vehicles and the development of charging infrastructure are expected to drive demand for renewable energy sources.
The anticipated trends in the green energy sector over the next few decades collectively contribute to shaping a more sustainable and resilient future. These trends hold the potential to accelerate the transition to a low-carbon economy, enhance energy security, and foster sustainable development on a global scale.