Bengaluru: Energy cooperation, which has become a vital part of Indo-US relations, has taken another leap with a $50 million collaboration to promote solar energy research.
The Solar Energy Research Institute for India and the United States (SERIIUS) has been set up by the Indian Institute of Science and the National Renewable Energy Laboratories (NREL), part of the US Department of Energy.
Professor K. Chattopadhyay, the chairperson of the Materials Engineering Department at IISc, has been named one of the codirectors of the institute, along with L.L. Kazmerskie of the NREL.
The institute, through a formalised R&D structuture, aims to promote binational collaborations.
It all began with the the PACE programme, which was launched in 2010 by US President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. “SERRIUS is part of the PACER programme,” said Professor Chattopadhyay.
“The two governments have contributed $12.5m each and the rest is being obtained through industry bids. The three major points of focus in the PACE prgorame are solar energy, building effiency and biofuels. Our consortium consists of 30 members, 15 from each country and includes members IIT Bombay and Chennai, as well as universities like Berkely”, he said.
SERIIUS will have two headquarters, one at the IISc and one at the NREL in the US. The institute will function through what they like to call ‘cooperation and innovation without borders’. The primary focus will be high-impact fundamental and applied research and development that might just bring solar energy one step closer to becoming a practically viable energy source. The solar electric technology they hope to develop will lower the cost per watt of photovoltaics and concentrated solar power.
India is a long way away from adopting solar power as a principal energy source, whether the setbacks lie in technical, economic or policy issues. SERIIUS will also facilitate collaborations between research institutions and industry, greatly shortening the duration between a discovery, the development of that discovery and its commercialisation.