My name is Joseph Antony and I am writing this letter to showcase my interest in pursuing a master’s degree in Sustainable Energy Technologies (SET) at a reputable university such as the TU Delft. I was fortunate to learn about this university while attending a MOOC program on ‘edx.org’ titled ‘Solar Energy Engineering: Photovoltaic Energy Conversion’, taught by professors of TU Delft. While thoroughly scanning TU Delft website for the SET course, I came across a blog by Karan Narayan. Reading his blog further reinforced my confidence that I was looking at the right university to pursue my ambition of enriching my understanding of harnessing renewable energy through different innovative systems, their practical applications and utilizing these energies efficiently to meet future energy demands.
Although being an Indian by nationality, I was born and raised in a diverse multi-cultural environment in Qatar – a tiny yet influential Arab nation in the Middle East. When I was a senior at high school, I came across a documentary titled ‘An Inconvenient Truth’, a campaign about alerting the public about global warming, by the former United States Vice President Al Gore. I was stunned when Al Gore presented the Keeling curve which showed a disturbing pattern of rapidly increasing CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere since the 1950s and its resulting detrimental effects. My curiosity on how to tackle the environmental crisis entailed in me pursuing a bachelor’s degree in 2009 in ‘Mechanical Engineering Specialized in Energy’ program from Vellore Institute of Technology, in India. I had a stimulating experience learning various aspects of renewable energy although, admittedly, initially I struggled to grasp the significance of this field and performed poorly in subjects pertaining to renewable energy. I chose electives such as ‘Hydrogen and Fuel Cells’, ‘Small Hydro Power Systems’ etc. in order to gain a broader understanding of harnessing energy from various renewable sources.
For my final year project in 2013, I had the opportunity to intern at ‘ENSPAR Energy Solutions PVT LTD’, an energy auditing company in Bangalore, India. Energy Auditing involves a comprehensive evaluation of a facility to identify energy consumption and other relevant information and helps to recommend suitable energy saving measures and products in order to reduce energy costs and improve the safety and overall green image of the facility. We conducted energy audits for a couple of mills and an international school consecutively. Detailed surveying, monitoring and gathering necessary information of the facilities through power quality study, thermography study, general electrical study, safety audit, thermal and indoor comfort study were all novel to me. I was involved in analysing and preparing detailed reports based on all the information gathered. I was amazed to learn various ingenious energy-saving measures, such as reducing bending resistance by replacing V-belts with notched V-belts at air compressor units to improve efficiency, installing torque controllers for laundry section motors to reduce electrical and mechanical stresses and so on. We were able to recommend the best practices and products that could potentially save up to 40% of energy with low investments and short payback periods. I was awarded an ‘A’ grade for the 20 credit final year project which was worth for all the hard work I poured in.
After graduating in 2013, I returned to Qatar to find that the country was still grappling with the idea of renewable energy. At that time, Oil and Gas industry was prevailing since Qatar has one of the largest natural gas reserves in the world. I was enticed by the attractive salary packages offered by Oil companies and hence decided to use my skills in this field. Mostly, I worked on offshore rigs since my job was to monitor and control the torque up of casings and tubular to their optimum torque recommendations to ensure the well integrity. I was able to gain a comprehensive understanding of well operations from drilling to create the wellbore, to testing the wellbore for reservoir potential and finally the ‘completion’ stage where the well is ready for production and handed over to the process facilities. Whilst working in physically demanding conditions on rigs, I was blessed to have the opportunity to interact with people of different backgrounds and cultures that helped me broadened my perspective on the world. But I should confess, I wasn’t happy with what I was doing. I loathed the offshore life and I regretted joining this field, especially since it was different from what I was hoping to do – To be part of the renewable energy sector and gain practical skills of being a renewable energy engineer.
In order to not lose touch with my educational background, I utilized my spare time on rigs to learn about the current trends of renewable energy. I came across a website called ‘FutureLearn’ that provides ‘MOOC’ (Massive Open Online Courses) for free. I enrolled in courses titled ‘Elements of Renewable Energy’ and ‘New Energy Technologies: Energy Transition and Sustainable Development’ which helped deepen my understanding of emerging sustainable technologies from both a business and technological perspective. I had a great time engaging in discussions learning about various renewable policies, the popular one being ‘Feed-in tariffs’ scheme, where ‘prosumers’ are paid for creating their own ‘green electricity’.
What really excited me was learning about India’s initiative to upscale renewable power capacity by 40%, to 175 GW. Due to the rapid pace of growth of the Indian economy, India ranks fourth in terms of carbon emissions. Therefore, in the run-up to the Paris summit, India has committed to cut 35% of emissions by 2030 from 2005 levels. India has created tremendous changes in policy framework with highly ambitious plans to increase the influence of solar energy up to 100 GW, followed by 60GW from Wind. One major milestone has to be Cochin International Airport in the southernmost state of Kerala, where tens of thousands of solar panels installed near the airport generates approximately 50,000 kilowatts of power, enabling it to be the first airport in the world powered entirely by solar energy.
Learning about India’s drive for sustainable energy transition has made me more focused and cogent about my life goals. I hope to contribute to my country’s progress by establishing a successful career in the renewable energy field. I aim to become part of the Indian government’s journey to efficiently managing energy resources through sustainable energy systems and ensure that these systems are ubiquitous all over India. In order to transform my dream into reality, it is imperative to pursue a proficiently structured master’s degree in this field such as the ‘Sustainable Energy Technologies’ offered by TU Delft. I believe I would immensely benefit from this programme, especially since TU Delft encourages independent and creative thinking while striking a balance between theory and practical knowledge. TU Delft’s excellent laboratories and research facilities coupled with its excellent ties with industries have placed no doubts in my mind that TU Delft is the right place for me to pursue master’s degree.
The ‘Autonomous systems’ profile cluster is my primary choice of study since learning how to harness energy using wind and solar systems and most importantly, how these power generated can be stored in order to ensure grid stability where the supply of generation meets the demand, interests me. I reached this conclusion since one of the challenges India is trying to solve is incorporating energy storage so as to alleviate grid power management problems due to the intermittent power output from renewable energy.