Concerted efforts in Energy Research and Entrepreneurship needed for Energy Security in India

On the occasion of 6th Convocation of Pandit Deendayal Petroleum University (PDPU) at Gandhinagar, India held on 23rd September 2017, Honb’le Minister of Petroleum & Natural Gas and Skill Development & Entrepreneurship, Shri Dharmendra Pradhan had addressed the gathering of graduating students, parents, faculty, media and energy experts.

He stated that the US, which was a major importer of petroleum short time back, became exporter of oil and natural gas. He conveyed that research taken place at universities like University of Houston and other top institutes contributed towards energy transformation of the U.S. Similarly, Indian Universities with established research ecosystem can too contribute towards transforming India’s energy sector and help India to become the energy-secured.

He thus laid the significance of research in energy sector, wherein shared his efforts in bringing Ministry of Coal, Ministry of Power and Ministry of PNG on the table to contribute for research in energy sector. With support and contribution from these ministries, he has announced the support of ₹ 300 crore to PDPU for Research and Incubation Centre in energy sector with the condition that this fund is not used for construction of building at PDPU “Ye fund Bhavan bananeke liye kharch nahi hona chahiye”. Assuring that this fund would reach for the purpose intended, Pradhan stated that research will lead to innovation and new idea for budding researchers which would enable them to become energy entrepreneurs and provide the opportunity to become a millionaire. 

In addition, he also announced a grant of ₹75 crore to set up the National Data Repository (NDR) at PDPU campus, which would enable the students to extract data for doing research and innovations in petroleum sector. Besides, he further announced the integration of Institute of Reservoir Studies (IRS), Ahmedabad run by Oil & Natural Gas Corporation Limited (ONGC) with PDPU. He said, “We will give autonomy to the IRS, so that the institute can associate with PDPU for further data analysis and research”.

With such government support and policy initiatives to promote education & research in energy sector would go a long way in securing India’s energy security needs in a sustainable way. In this direction, government has already set up two Institutes of National Importance in line with Indian Institute of Technologies (IITs), namely, Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Petroleum Technology (RGIPT) at Jais, Amethi, Utar Pradesh under the Act of Parliament (RGIPT Act 2007) in 2008 and Indian Institute of Petroleum and Energy (IIPE), at Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh in 2016. Both RGIPT and IIPE are supported by MoPNG along with Oil Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs) and Oil Industry Development Board (OIDB) with around ₹1000 crore investments in both the institutes.

Given, most of the new hydrocarbons are expected from difficult terrain such as deep-water and ultra-deep water and unconventional form of energy resources, such as shale and gas hydrates, research and innovation in this direction would go a long way in enhancing domestic availability of such resource, thereby reducing India’s dependence on fossil fuel imports. These energy universities thus would play a significant role in saving significant amount of foreign exchange reserves, while contributing towards economic growth. Besides, these universities would create a pool of much needed skilled manpower for the growth of energy sector in India.

In addition such government initiatives across other energy value chain, including, renewables would help to strengthen research and promote entrepreneurship in energy sector, to serve the 3rd largest energy consumer of the world in a bigger way.