A movement for a better tomorrow

Vinaya Patil
Monday, 15 October 2018

Sonam Wanghcuk, engineer, innovator, education reformist, and R Somasundaram of Mytrah Energy, speak to Sakal Times about the urgency for switching to renewable energy and the power of youth in doing so

Are we headed towards an environmental disaster? No! Because we are already living in one, an environmental activist had said a few years ago, and it couldn’t be any truer today. The need for turning to renewable and clean energy is more than ever today, and in tune with this thought, Mytrah Energy (India) Pvt Ltd (MEIPL), an independent power producer, organised its signature event Mytrahtalks in Pune over the weekend, addressing over 400 students.

The event was designed to educate students on the growing awareness about sustainability in India, exemplified by the incredible growth story of the country’s renewable energy industry. This sector has been a driving force of positive change and the significant capital investment in manufacturing, project development and allied services has led to increased job opportunities in this field for young people called “the solution side of the line” by Sonam Wangchuk, renowned engineer, innovator, education reformist who led the talks on Saturday.

Organised at Symbiosis Institute of International Business (SIIB), the event aimed to promote growth in the energy industry and saw Wangchuk joining hands with Mytrah Energy to educate students about the benefits of early leadership in the sustainability space. “Education and sustainability are two subjects around which my life revolves. Mytrah Energy works on sustainability and they do it in a way that is beneficial to the ecosystem in general and not just their business model. As they also focus on the youth, I thought that this would be a fruitful partnership,” said Wangchuk on the sidelines of the event.

Mytrah Energy’s leaders educate students on how technology, knowledge and competencies will continue to evolve in the renewable energy sector. “We want to bring about change at a broader level. If everyone decided to lead a sustainable life, we will have made a better world, whether through Mytrah or not,” said R Somasundaram, head of strategic initiatives at Mytrah Energy. 

Mytrah Energy (India) Private Limited is a leading renewable independent power producer and a pioneer in this space. The company has many projects in the wind and solar power segments across nine Indian states (Punjab, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu) and works massively in rooftop solar projects across the country. Mytrah has built the country’s largest wind data bank using over 200 wind mast locations pan-India.

Addressing the students, Wangchuk said, “In these challenging times, as our planet grapples with the detrimental impact of climate change, India needs to emerge as a solution provider to the world’s environmental woes. I call on everyone to commit to adopting clean renewable energy options as a means to working towards our sustainable development goals. Alternative energy is an unstoppable force and our youth should seize this moment to help India make headway in the global scenario.” 

He commended Mytrah Energy’s commitment to this, calling it “a movement that will shape a better tomorrow.” Wangchuk, receiver of the 2018 Ramon Magsaysay award, and founder of the revolutionary Students’ Educational and Cultural Movement of Ladakh (SECMOL) in Ladakh, says that he has always wanted to bring reforms in schools and that’s where his journey began. “During my engineering  too, I opted for renewable energies. I didn’t just want to build machines, but solve problems without them,” says the reformist.

In line with these thoughts, R Somasundaram too spoke about the growing need for awareness about the negative environmental impact of our everyday actions — in the form air pollution, water table depletion, plastic waste generation or other outcomes. “We must also realise that finding a solution is not just the prerogative of the government or large organisations — all of us can contribute towards this cause. We hope that this session will trigger meaningful conversations about ways to grow sustainably and restore the health of our planet.”

The talk also covered a panel discussion between Mytrah Energy, Wangchuk and the top management from SIIB. When asked if India has made enough progress in terms of harnessing renewable energy, Wangchuk says that the answer is both yes and no. “We have many problems when it comes to our energy consumption methods and management. So no, we haven’t made enough progress; but also, we have come a long way in terms of awareness and the recent attention to the need for renewable energy. So yes, we have certainly made progress from where we were a couple of decades ago,” he answers, while cautioning that nothing is foolproof. 

Even renewable energy can cause damage to the environment if there is unbridled use, he says. Giving an instance, Somasundaram says that when we speak of shifting to electric cars, we must think of the entire supply chain. “We will need electric charging points like our petrol pumps. For those charging points, we need to produce that much electricity, which needs burning coal, so ultimately we are using non-renewable fuel,” he explains.

It all thus boils down to conscious and economical use of resources in general, the two stress. The sad bit is, “we don’t feel the need for it yet,” says Wangchuk. “Environmental disasters don’t touch us. We need to sensitise people. Government declaring policies is not enough. That is both the beauty and problem of democracy. We vote every time we make a choice not just during the elections. Everytime you deny a plastic bottle, you are making a statement, and if enough people make it, then that’s a movement which the government must follow,” he stresses.

Wangchuk makes an important point when he says that we live in a world where torn jeans is a fashion, then why not unironed clothes! “We will save on so much energy,” he concludes.

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