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You Can Strike Gold as Sun Shines

BANGALORE: The future is solar. Solar bikes, cars, buses, trains and even space vehicles. Even if it seems a fantasy at this stage, work is underway at a feverish pace to get into the solar frame of life. There's plenty of money in solar renewable and climate change.

Europe, which is way ahead of the rest of the world in solar power, is giving it a push in India too. A researcher from any science institution in India can now get a share of a 10 million EU-India fund if one can build a solar energy system over a three-year period. Researchers can propose theoretical models to European Commission (EC) and Indian department of science and technology (DST), who will take a call on their viability because EC and DST are serious about useful and practical solar systems that emerge from research.

DST officials told TOI that solar projects have to be economically viable, commercially attractive, environmentally friendly and sustainable. The projects should also follow the principle of clean energy technologies and aid energy security without creating any adverse impact on climate. Indian researchers will get to work with EU researchers and institutions who will help incubate the project so that a product emerges after the period of research. A pilot-scale production will be undertaken, and if the product or system is found viable in all ways, joint patents for the system as well as the knowledge that has gone into it would be developed, officials said.

Within the EU, Germany has taken the lead in solar energy, which is a 16-billion dollar industry worldwide. Of this, Germany alone contributes 8 billion dollars turnover. Germany also employs one million people in its solar-renewable energy sector. Spain too has developed solar farms.

Entrepreneur Bob Hoekstra, who is focusing on development of such projects in Bangalore, says solar energy will drive basic systems in everyday life in 20 years.