Wired to Wireless Solar Electricity by Prof. Chetan Singh Solanki

Location and Date: 
Wednesday,August 16, 2017, 4:30 pm, LC 101
Can we go away from wired electricity and go wireless electricity for around 1.2 billion people in the world who lack access to affordable, abundant and clean electricity to support their daily needs and livelihoods, of which 244 million reside in India? Providing grid electricity to remote rural areas has been proven to be challenging, expensive, unreliable and of poor quality. Alternative solutions in the form of solar electricity, implemented since the 1980s, have failed primarily due to isolated and individual nature of solutions lacking community involvement in design and implementation, poor sustainability and durability. Solar Urja through Localization for Sustainability (SoULS, www.soulsiitb.in) envisages providing local solar solutions for energy needs through the progression from horizontal expansion to vertical integration to the regions and communities living in geographically isolated regions. The local solar solution includes involving local communities at each level of operation including manufacturing, assembly, sale, and after-sales service, thus creating a Solar Eco-system by Local for Local (SELL). The horizontal expansion focuses on providing critical electricity to all in an immediate manner, which is accomplished through the provision of 1 million solar study lamps (2014-16) and recently sanctioned 7 million solar study lamps scheme (2017-18). While vertical integration is being experimented through Dungarpur Initiative in Rajasthan wherein tribal women were trained to own, manage and operate solar shops. A solar PV manufacturing plant, one of first its kind in country, is being local tribal women to serve local markets. This Solar ecosystem, combined with super efficient loads, can provide all electricity needs in reliable, cost-effective and sustained manner, without grid wires!!  
Dr. Chetan Singh Solanki, a Professor at the Department of Energy Science and Engineering, IIT Bombay, specializes in solar cell technologies and systems. Dr. Solanki is an educator, innovator, researcher, entrepreneur, author and philosopher. He is well known for his remarkable work in solar power as a renewable source of energy. He received his Ph.D. from IMEC (Ketholik University) Leuven, Belgium, a leading R&D and innovation hub in micro and nano-electronics.
Prof. Solanki was born in a small village called Nemit, in the Khargone district of Madhya Pradesh in central India. He completed his primary education in a small school in his village. The school at that time had just one class room and one teacher. Having studied by the light of a kerosene lamp himself, Prof. Solanki is committed to providing clean light to all students. He is the founder and Chairman of Education Park, an initiative that provides high quality and affordable education to students across rural India.
Dr. Solanki’s Solar Urja Lamp (SoUL) project implemented in Rajasthan received Prime Minister’s award from Honourable Shri Narendra Modi in April-2017 under innovative project category. He has won the EMRS (European Material Research Society) young scientist award in 2003 and IIT Bombay’s Young Investigator Award in 2009. He has also received recognition at international conferences for his high quality research papers. He has published over 100 research papers in international journals and conferences on solar photovoltaic (PV). He has 4 US patents to his credit already. Several more are under review for award.
Prof. Solanki is the author of many books in the area of solar and renewable energy, which include Solar PV: Fundamentals, Technologies and Applications (date of publication?) and Solar PV Technology and Systems: A Manual for Technician, Trainers and Engineers (date of publication). One of the books, Renewable Energy Technologies—A Practical Guide for Beginners (date of publication? Hindi version) received the award of excellence by Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE), Government of India in the year 2011.
Through his research and technical knowledge, Prof. Solanki is committed to promoting solar PV technologies on the policy, technical, social and entrepreneurial fronts. He is currently leading two key projects of national importance sponsored by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE), Government of India. Prof. Solanki is the Principal Investigator (PI) of the SoULS (Solar Urja through Localization for Sustainability) project at IIT Bombay, which aims to provide solar study lamps to every child in rural India as part of its ‘Right to Light’ mission. His broader objective is to create self-sustaining solar eco-systems for off-grid electricity solutions that stand on the pillars of localisation and rural entrepreneurship. Currently, several projects under SoULS are being executed to meet these objectives. Having worked on his Ph.D. with a large group of researchers at IMEC, he has always been keen on establishing a similar centre at IIT Bombay. His dream came true when NCPRE (National Centre for Photovoltaic Research and Education) was established at IIT Bombay in 2010 towards supporting India’s National Solar Mission. Prof. Solanki has been one of the founder PIs of the project. Today, NCPRE is one of India’s leading research facilities on PV, covering areas such as solar cells, solar PV modules, energy storage and power electronics.
As an entrepreneur, Prof. Solanki founded kWatt Solutions Pvt. Ltd. in 2013 through incubation at the Society for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (SINE) at IIT Bombay. kWatt Solutions provides engineering and design service for rooftop and ground mounted solar PV systems and imparts one of the best entrepreneur training in the field.
Prof. Solanki has taken several initiatives on the social front as well. During his doctoral study he has founded ROSE, an organization registered in Belgium that supports the cause of education in rural India.

Prof. Solanki believes in practising yoga, breathing exercises and meditation for physical and mental well-being. He practices and promotes “being happy under all situations”. He associates himself with Art of Living organization and as a teacher, has taken an active part in training young minds.