IIT Campus was under construction when Saroj Nayak, who had been a condensed matter physicist at Renssealer Polytechnic, located in USA, moved to Bhubhaneswar. Before getting a job offer from IIT Bhubhaneswar, Nayak worked from an old government building which didn’t have power. Out of the frustration caused by heat and recurring power cuts, came his creation to harness this heat.
The old UPS system didn’t please Nayak, thus he invented one to work on Solar Power. He got a patent for it and built his company called Karma. Odisha’s vilages are getting power because of him and his colleagues; the work was done all under the nose of Naxalites in the hills.
The small farmers could not afford solar pumps, Nayak noticed it. So, he built smaller solar-powered pumps that were perfect for 90% of the Odishi Farmers.
Now, Nayak is not alone anymore. There were no companies doing serous innovation even after it has been two decades harnessing solar energy. But now the time is changing and more number of researchers from good institutions is devising new technologies.
Impact on Environment and Economy
Above mentioned Karma created a market of solar pumps that was not initially there. Ashok Jhujhunwala, Electrical Engineering Professor at IIT Madras, devised an inverter-less solar system that saves energy and cost both. The startup is named Cyngi Energy, which was started with Venkat Rajaraman.
Nishant Dongari, Aerospace engineering professor at IIT Hyderabad, started a company called PuREnergy which offers solar Power installations. Dongari has been eyeing the Solar Energy market since his days at IIT Bombay as a student; he desired to create a hybrid solution to off-grid and on-grid PV systems. Since its inception PuREnergy has done 100 small and 4 medium installations.
Another Startup in Hyderabad, Natco Pharma wishes to completely shift to renewable energy and already has a plant for 2.5mW production, which was done by PuREnergy. PuREnergy also saved around 4 crore of Natco Pharma.
Decrease in costs is an impact of improved efficiency. If this remains the case then the initial costs in installation can be recovered in less than 5 years. Advanced technology brings down many costs and needs less space. Altogether this makes Solar Energy attractive.
Ashok Jhunjhunwala and his team found that conventional low power solar systems were highly inefficient due to the poor-quality inverters. Thus, with the help of Venkat they started a company Cygni that made inverter less PV system that can power up DC devices or devices that can be tweaked to work on DC till now.
PuREnergy and Cygni have additional advantage of remote monitoring of the Solar Panels that lets the user check for deterioration of solar panels and thus get proper maintenance done on time.
What others are saying
Government and Industrialists consider the solar pump as a game-changer.
Officials from Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) estimate that replacing half of diesel pumps with solar pumps would give the banks a loan opportunity of 1 lakh crore.
Nayak’s Pump powered a 0.5 horsepower pump that works great for a small farm. If banks and government supports it then this will bring in revolution all over country.
We hope the future brings in more professors who will innovate energy technologies.