REtopia, the annual technical symposium of TERI School of Advanced Studies (TERI SAS), an event solely managed by the students of Master of Technology in Renewable Energy and Engineering Management (M.Tech REEM), Department of Energy and Environment (DoEE), is organized to provide students with deeper understanding and knowledge gain about the various issues being encountered in the energy sector and how to go around them. Various experts from the industry grace the event, to present their experiences, and to guide the youth to solve the various problems persisting in the current and future spectrum of renewable energy in India. This year, REtopia 2018 was organized on 14th-15th September, with its theme in line with SDG 7: Affordable and Clean Energy. The SDG gave an actual essence to the spirit of host institute and the department as they both focus and have a grounded hold on sustainability.

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The event was inaugurated by Mr. Anil Jain, Additional Secretary – Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (Government of India) and co-chaired by Dr Rajiv Seth, Pro Vice Chancellor- TERI SAS, Mr. Amit Kumar, Senior Director- TERI and Dr Atul Kumar, Head of the Department- DoEE TERI SAS.

Powered by SDSN-Youth (TERI SAS), the expert session was organized with a single objective of bringing industry experts, corporate and policy makers to discuss the current scenario of energy access in India along with challenges on the primary level.

The first round for the expert session was headed by Mr. Nitin Sabikhi (AVP, IEX India) and Ms. Sneh Daheriya (VP, PTC India).

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Mr. Nitin began the session by presenting his thoughts on the possibility of the existence of different energy nexus, while constantly stressing on the necessity for presence of adequate participants for the whole energy market to keep its engine running. One problem that he also discussed was of energy defaulters and how management policies put in place for them shall affect them negatively. At the end, Mr. Nitin talked about the role of identification of renewable energy for their promotion and wide spread acceptance across the country and the positive impacts of unbundled renewables which could help in decreasing the burning load of fossil fuels by harnessing the energy from the sun and providing it back to the central grid.

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Ms. Sneh Daheriya spoke intricately on the two aspects of products: affordability and availability. She extensively spoke about the distribution and the production sector of rooftop solar PV and mini and micro grids. The main stress of interest was given on the possibility of global outreach. The idea discussed was about how, the states which are low on renewable energy, could avail the opportunity of generation of energy through renewable by the creation of strong connectivity between states and the transmission centres. She further explained how solar PV acts as the sole energy harnessing system in low electrified areas of the country.

The next in agenda was a plenary session moderated by Mr. Chintan Shah, Technical Director- IREDA.

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The panellist for this session were Mr Atul Mudaliar (India Program Manager, The Climate Group), Mr. Manish Pandey (Fellow, and Area Convener- TERI), Mr Vibhash Garg (Director, PwC) and Mr Rajneesh Rana (General Manager, EESL). The session elaborated on the energy accessibility, customization of technology and human resources. They pointed out the downhill factors of energy harness and accessibility and the shift on focus from the village level to household level, which is what the government is presently doing. The problem of energy has been a major point of conjuncture since Independence, but the creation of a suitable road map or policy to carry this forward is the real work. Though the potential of renewable energy is immense, but the prioritization of distribution and proper storage of energy forms the major concern. The idea of mini grids is one of the possible solutions for 100% energy access, the only problem being the cost attached to such systems. Mini- grids are feasible for home lighting and small- scale solutions. The rural aspect of the country is moving towards solar utilization for electrification although the installation cost for creating a web between the mini grids and national grids could be on the higher side. The utilization of local solutions for power generation had also been put in to question. Such a thing, although is possible and feasible but finds its limitation in the maintenance aspect. The success of local resource-based power solution depends upon its financial viability, which often comes to an end. The other local resources exemplified is the biomass-based technologies. The real problem faced with such technologies is the aesthetics of the area of installation, funding agencies repulse from the digester odour, maintenance and so on. The supply chain for biomass plants are also erratic and non-reliable. 

The symposium also had other brainstorming and mind igniting events like:

QuEst- Problem solving competition based on existing issues in the industry.

SynCReate- Showcasing promising and new sustainable ideas.

EnVison- Poster presentation to exhibit ideas on Energy and Environment.

CaPture- Photographic competition on SDG 7, 11, 13 and 14.

InQuizon- An event to test your knowledge.

EuReka- Session by Entrepreneurs on Startups.

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These events were organised to create a complete and complimenting environment to the sessions, for better student connectivity and letting them explore their creativity and imagination towards the theme and sustainable development goals.

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Mohammed Subhan Khan is the SDG Coordinator for UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network Youth (SDSN-Y) from TERI SAS, South Asia Network. He is trained as an Electronics and Communication Engineer and has worked for 2 years in the industry. He is currently pursuing Master of Technology in Renewable Energy and Engineering Management from TERI School of Advanced Studies (TERI SAS). He has also been a founding member of a Delhi based solar start-up in India 2016. Subhan is also leading the School University Network (SUN) of TERI SAS, which sensitizes people on sustainability and environment-related issues by conducting workshops and seminars at schools, colleges, and organizations.