Some of the leading academic institutions in the United States and India have joined hands to develop and, ultimately, deploy low-cost clean energy technologies. The initiative is part of the $125 million US–India Initiative for Clean Energy which was announced by President Obama and Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh in 2009. Under the initiative, grants would be awarded to US and Indian academic and research institutions which will work in pairs to develop clean energy technologies.
Recently, Washington University in St. Louis has been paired with the Indian Institute of Technology–Bombay for the development of low-cost solar PV modules and power systems. Significant technical support is expected to be provided by MEMC Electronic Materials, Inc.
Together, the Washington University and IIT–Bombay partnership has established the Solar Energy Research Institute in India and the United States (SERIIUS) to help coordinate their efforts. One of the research areas will involve study of elegantly arranged proteins plants used to harvest light and funnel the light to reaction centers. The fundamental knowledge gained in this intensive effort to understand how nature harvests light will guide the effort to improve next-generation solar technology.
The second research area involves development of processes for the production of solar cells that are lower cost and scalable, probably by switching to a material such as titanium dioxide (TiO2) that is easier and cheaper to process than silicon. The third research area will be concentrated on storage of solar power generated during the day to be used during the night or overcast days.
Several American companies have played a significant role in India’s recent rise as a major solar power market. Some of the leading companies, like SunEdison and FirstSolar, continue to make major contributions in the Indian solar energy market.
The views presented in the above article are author’s personal views only