Address by Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu, Honourable Vice President at the inaugural function of the 2.4 MW solar power plant at Pondicherry University in Puducherry on September 13, 2021.

Puducherry | September 13, 2021

"Dear Sisters and Brothers,
I am indeed very happy to be here with you at the inauguration of the Solar Power Plant at Pondicherry University. Let me begin by congratulating the administration of Pondicherry University and the team behind this project for successfully implementing this plant and bringing it into operation.
Since its establishment in 1985, Pondicherry University has developed a great legacy in nurturing brilliant young minds and has been an excellent centre for research and innovation. This solar plant, with a 2.4 Megawatt capacity is another feather in the University’s cap.
The recent IPCC report on climate change gives us a dire warning of global temperature rise exceeding 1.5 degrees celsius. Climate change is not a futuristic phenomenon and we are already experiencing it. The next few years are going to be very crucial for our collective action to mitigate climate change.
In this context, green energies such as solar, wind and small hydro offer a viable alternative to meet our growing energy needs, while also being sustainable in the long run.
In particular, solar energy has shown the most promise in recent years. As you all are aware, I inaugurated another solar plant at JIPMER, Puducherry yesterday. This preference for solar plants and solar energy among institutions and people is a very good and welcome sign.
India is endowed with vast solar energy potential. The National Institute of Solar Energy (NISE) has assessed the country’s solar potential to be about 748 GW, assuming 3% of the wasteland area to be covered by Solar PV modules. This is a great opportunity waiting to be explored to provide reliable electricity to our remote areas, to reduce carbon emissions and to achieve energy security.
As a result of sustained efforts by the government and private players, India now has more than 40 Gigawatt of installed solar capacity. Today, we are ranked fifth globally in solar power capacity and fast becoming the global leaders in ‘energy transition’. We are also well placed to meet our committed renewable energy targets at the Paris Climate Conference by 2030.
Brothers and sisters,
While these figures show the positive aspects of solar power in India, there are some structural issues that are hindering our growth in the sector.
The biggest is the shortage of domestically manufactured solar cells and solar modules. We still heavily rely on imported solar components which are being used by Indian companies to make panels. We need to reduce this dependency and achieve Atma Nirbharta in solar modules and solar cells. We have to quickly ramp up production by easing the setting up of manufacturing plants, publicizing the subsidy programmes by the government and encouraging small players. States particularly must take an active lead in this regard.
Another bottleneck in our exponential growth of solar and other renewable energy sources is the lack of a trained workforce. Given their potential in India’s growth over the next few years, we must invest in training the workforce with the latest technologies in the renewable sector. The scheme of ‘Surya Mitras’ is one good instance.
Universities such as yours must also take up research work and projects which have a component of renewable energy. My advice to educational institutions is to encourage students to take up final year projects and internships in the field of renewable energy and in material sciences. This will not only improve their employment prospects but will also help in promoting innovations and improvements in our domestic solar industry.
Finally, I would like to highlight the importance of innovation in the solar sector. As the tariff rates come down and the efficiency of the modules increase, we need to also think of alternative avenues to install ground-mounted PV systems.
One good option is to float a solar plant on water. For instance, NTPC is on course to commission India’s biggest floating solar power plant of 100 MW capacity at Ramagundam in Telangana. This model has other advantages such as conservation of water through reduction of evaporation. Such projects can be replicated elsewhere too. Similarly, rooftop-mounted solar is a feasible and sustainable option that needs to be encouraged.
The spirit of innovation must permeate all your research and its outcomes. An educational institution is not meant to replicate information. Its real purpose is to become the nucleus of all new knowledge and innovation. You must strive to become trailblazers. I am confident that this university will live up to its reputation and become an able partner in driving the change towards a sustainable future.
Once again, I am very happy to have come here, interacted with the faculty and researchers and inaugurated the solar power plant. My best wishes to one and all.
Thank you,

Jai Hind!"