P.C. Pant first saw a parabolic trough on a study tour to the National Physical Laboratory (NPL) while he was pursuing his master’s. He found it fascinating, and it was this that motivated him to start working in the solar energy segment. Currently director, Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE), he has been with the ministry since 1988, when it was called the Department of Non-conventional Energy. He has over 35 years of experience in the sector, starting from the time it was still at a nascent stage.
Pant believes that with the scaling up of renewable capacity to meet the 175 GW by 2022 target, there will be a greater need for energy storage to address the issue of intermittency. The scope of energy storage will also expand. From utilising lead-acid batteries for decentralised projects, going forward, energy storage systems will be utilised for large-scale grid-connected projects.
One of the most challenging experiences for Pant was his assignment to develop an energy complex in Jaspur, Uttarakhand, as part of an integrated rural energy plan. This complex included a 185 cubic metre biogas plant, which provided cooking gas to 40 households in the village, as well as three windmills, one solar pump and a community lighting project. Pant has also prepared and implemented integrated rural energy development plans for Peshawa in Sitapur district and Mohanlalganj in Lucknow district. The major challenge was getting acceptability for the project. While people were enthusiastic about the concept, they were skeptical about the actual working of the plant.
During his tenure at the Solar Energy Center, now known as the National Institute of Solar Energy, Pant developed a training facility and established a state-of-art battery testing facility in 1988.
Pant received a master’s degree in physics from Kumaun University in Nainital, Uttar Pradesh. He also has a doctorate in solar energy from CCS University, Meerut. A passionate teacher, he has been invited to speak as a guest lecturer at the National Power Training Institute (for the MBA, Power Electronics programme), as well as at IIT Delhi, DTU, TERI University and MANIT Bhopal, amongst other institutions. Pant believes in imparting his knowledge based on research and his professional experience to the younger generation. Teaching has been a good experience for him and he believes he has learnt a lot through the queries posed by students. He also loves listening to old music from the 1970s and 1980s.