“Hello Check!! Mic Check!! “, this was the third time the technician went busy correcting the remaining glitches. Some connections here and there and we were ready to roll. The instruction was to ensure everything was proper and ready. One could have easily noticed the hard efforts our TAP cell members were putting in. Brand new curtains, a cooler and a faint sandalwood fragrance in C-51, the guests in the jam-packed seminar hall clearly indicated the grandeur of the event.
Every effort and arrangement was worth, as the occasion marked the visit of one of the most distinguished alumnus of our institute- Shri. AK Jha. Mr.Jha is the Director (Technical), of the power house of our country-NTPC. Mr. Jha’s portfolio was already the most talked about thing in the campus, with everyone fantasizing that, if he being a BITian could head a Maharatna company then why couldn’t they?
Mr. Jha is a graduate in Mechanical Engineering from BIT Sindri and has done LLB from Delhi University. He joined NTPC in 1977 as Executive Trainee (2nd batch). He was directly associated with the NTPC’s flagship project i.e. Singrauli (5*200MW) as part of the erection team. He has a rich and varied experience of 38 years in NTPC in all areas of Power Project i.e. Design & Engineering, Project Planning and Monitoring and Project Construction & Management.
Organised by the TAP cell under the aegis of our honorable director Dr. D.K. Singh Sir and Dr. Ghanshyam Rai Sir (Prof. In-Charge TAP Cell), the seminar titled “Opportunities and Career options in Energy Sector”, began in all its glory.
With the presence of our other esteemed alumni and professors the stage was all set for an enlightening session.
Mr. Jha started by mentioning how overwhelmed he was standing at the same place where he last stood 40 years back when he was giving a farewell speech to his seniors. “Right now I am not the director of NTPC, I am your senior and you all are my loving juniors”, he said, highlighting the trademark senior-junior relation of BIT, which is a book in itself.
“Although Dr. D.K. Singh asked me to motivate you all, I would honestly accept that I am not a motivational speaker at all. I will just tell you what I know and given my work profile, all I’ve heard and known is POWER POWER & POWER. “
This Bollywood inspired dialogue left the audience electrified and the roar of claps was, as if the thunder clouds were rumbling inside the seminar hall.
He then expressed his discontent that students of core disciplines of Engineering prefer air-conditioned, luxurious software jobs. This is not because the career is rewarding but the students find it very EASY and this should be a never-to-have attitude. “Software jobs give the immediate comfort but won’t bring out a great leader in you”, he said, citing his own story when he chose to work at project site instead of a comfortable job at office. According to him, his life is the daily satisfaction of creating things and seeing projects take shape in front of his own eyes. He further added that one should always keep in mind that being in project sites and fields always increases one’s innovation skills and provides them with zeal to create something of their own. This, in true sense, justifies an engineer.
In his words,
“Never choose a path which is easy. It is mostly the less travelled and harsh roads which lead to success.”
From Executive Trainee to the Director, he chose to test himself in tough circumstances and as a result has been a part of an incredible journey of NTPC from 0MW to 51000MW. Remarkable isn’t it !!!
He then moved towards his presentation and began with shedding some light on the power sector in India and the opportunities it offers. His presentation described why Coal is still a dominant fuel in India- because it’s the cheapest. Despite emerging renewable resources, coal continues to be a basic necessity as the renewable resources like Hydro Power Plants take long for annual production and setup.. Wind and Solar energy are subject to time constraints. Hence, when renewable resources fail to meet the entire demand, Conventional resources like coal are relied upon.
So, a lot of investment has been brought in to upgrade the power sector in India and fulfill the projected energy demand by 2030. This offers a conducive environment for developing state of the art technologies at cheaper rates, and here lies the opportunities for the budding technocrats like us. Mr.Jha explained that apart from operating conventional power plants, NTPC has taken up wide array of projects which require a lot of applied research and students like us can cash in, by taking up such projects and solving the industrial issues. Presently, NTPC relies on foreign Technology Providers and its home grown R&D sector. So, if Indian students start working on technology development they could, in future become Technology Providers for INDIA and the world.
Some of the areas of development in power sector, which NTPC is focussing on and future engineers and entrepreneur can work upon, are-
- Improve interoperability between renewable and coal power generation methods.
- Advance Ultra efficient Super-critical power plants.(At par with the world in development. Focus is also on the off-shoot researches which can benefit other sectors as well)
- Water re-usability – Sewage Treatment.
- SOx and NOx conversions..
- Roof top Solar installations. Distributed solar electricity generation through every household.
- Cleaning of Solar Panels.
- Development of Battery for electricity storage.
- Floating Solar (that has been already installed in Kayamkulam)
- Dry Cleaning System
- Solar Thermal Hybrid (at Dadri)
- Solar Power Forecasting
Mr. Jha then gave his insights on how to make the production of power less hazardous and more efficient. He returned to the perks of renewable energy resources and their scope. He also talked about the different methods of Bio Methanation, Pyrolysis and Combustion to reuse the waste produced for production of power. Garbage and liquid waste alone can produce 566 MW and 462MW respectively. He went on to talk about the different ways of utilizing waste like Flue Gas and ash for efficient recycling and reuse.
‘What can be made of cement can be made of ash.’
He further mentioned that there’s a lot of potential for entrepreneurs in the power sector, as cost of setting up a plant of 1 MW would demand an investment of around 70 Lakhs (20% of the net) from an individual and the rest would be provided by the bank, to make up for a sum total of 3.5 Crores. Also, the drop in the price of Solar and Wind power is attributed to the technological advancements in this field and growing popularity. Such can be the case for any renewable energy resource, provided initial support is given.
He then highlighted the different projects that NTPC is working on in collaboration with various National and International institutions like IIT Delhi, Bombay, Roorkee, Madras, IISc, NIT Warangal, Calicut, Melbourne University, etc. This gave an enthusiasm to the students interested in pursuing research in this area.
An interactive session followed, wherein queries from students and professors alike, were answered by Mr. Jha. The audience asked about the different opportunities in the sector, the problems arising in power plants, the scope of nuclear plants and efficient waste management.
Lastly, he encouraged the students to try their luck in the vast arena of power sector, and follow their passion for learning. He invited BITians for the Summer Training Programme of NTPC at different sites. He also promised a good working environment and knowledge enhancement to the students undergoing such a programme. He concluded by wishing luck and a bright future to the BITians.
The Director gave his vote of thanks by expressing his gratitude towards Mr. Jha, the other alumni, the professors and the students for taking out their time for the seminar. C-51 marked the presence of esteemed alumni like Sweta Ma’am and Chittranjan Sir, the secretary of BITSAA, along with honourable professors and staff members. He gave accolades to the Training and Placement Cell Officer, Prof. Dr. Ghanshyam Sir and coordinators for efficiently organizing the seminar.
An informative session as it was, the audience returned with a zest of innovation and a zeal of working hard to achieve heights.