Founder and President of National Solar Energy Federation of India (NSEFI). Pranav Mehta died on December 15, leaving a void in the industry. His vision helped establish India as a global leader in solar energy, and his contributions to the industry laid the foundation for the world’s fastest growing solar economy.
I worked closely with Pranav Mehta for four years and saw how his five decades of service shaped the Indian solar sector today and impacted India and the world.
31-year-old Mehta planned, supported and implemented the use of natural gas instead of coal in steel production. He left Tata Steel to join the Gujarat government in 1982, and eight years later his lobbying led to India’s first gas-fired “mushroom iron” steel plant at Hazira. The plant saved millions of tons of emissions related to coking coal production and brought employment and economic benefits.
Mehta was awarded the National Metallurgist Award by the Ministry of Steel and Mines in 1990, presented at the Indian Institute of Metals, and was felicitated by future President APJ Abdul Kalam on the occasion.
As the compressed natural gas advisor to the Gujarat State Petroleum Corporation—an appointment made by then Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi—Mehta helped reduce air pollution in the megacity of Ahmedabad and other cities in the state.
Mehta’s solar journey began in 2006, working with the former government body Planning Commission of India, and he drove the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy to produce India’s first solar policy two years later. From an initial target of 50 MW of solar power generation capacity, India now has 63 GW, making it the fifth largest solar country in the world.
In May 2013, Mehta founded the trade association NSEFI to represent the entire solar energy supply chain, including regional, national and international developers; manufacturers; design, procurement and construction contractors; installers; and system integrators; including small and medium-sized enterprises.
NSEFI is working with central and state governments towards India’s target of 450 GW of renewable energy capacity by 2030 and achieved the goal of making solar affordable in less than a decade under Mehta’s leadership.
NSEFI also played an important role in establishing the Global Solar Council at the COP21 climate change summit in Paris in 2015, together with other national solar organizations. The move was an important recognition of India’s growing role in the global solar narrative. Later, in 2019, Mehta became the first Indian to chair the Global Solar Council, and his tenure has been marked by advocacy on global platforms, particularly in developing countries, for the need to accelerate solar installations. Mehta was also the first Indian to sit on the seven-member steering committee of the International Renewable Energy Agency Coalition for Action in 2019.
Given India’s success in solar energy and Shri Mehta’s leadership and involvement in the industry, he was invited by governments and other institutions from 15 countries including the United States, France, Germany, Switzerland, Spain, China, Taiwan and Qatar. , United Arab Emirates, Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Egypt to share their insights and experiences on policy advocacy, planning for solar energy growth, capacity building and application of solar energy to ensure sustainable growth. Through these global efforts and activities, Mehta kept India’s flag high globally.
Awards and recognitions
Mehta has received accolades both in India and elsewhere in the world. Among the most important awards he has received are the Solar Visionary Influencer and Disruptor award from the Abu Dhabi-based Cleantech Business Club in 2019. This award was previously won by Tony Seba from Stanford University and former German MP Hans-Joseph Fell.
Shri Mehta also received the Green Energy Association of India Outstanding Green Activist Award 2019, an honor given by the Minister for Roads, Transport and Highways, Nitin Gadkari. India’s solar champion received the Global Excellence Award for renewable energy. 2017 from the Energy and Environment Foundation and then Energy Minister Piyush Goyal.
Mehta’s efforts had a significant socio-economic impact as it catalysed major investments, created entrepreneurship in the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) sector – especially for young entrepreneurs – and earned him a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Micro Ministry. , Small and Medium Enterprises with recognition given by MSME Minister Haribhai Chaudhar in 2017.
In Shri Mehta, the world has lost a climate warrior, the nation has lost a true son and energy ambassador, and the Indian solar industry has lost a visionary leader. The best tribute we can pay him is to carry on his legacy by carrying forward his work and building on the foundation of his vision for a sustainable India and a sustainable world.
About the author: Subrahmanyam Pulipaka is the CEO of NSEFI. He is one of the youngest winners of the BRICS Young Scientist Award 2018. Pulipaka is a well-known speaker at various solar and renewable energy events in India. He has represented India at various science and technology platforms globally including USA, China, Russia and Rwanda. He has a research background on the reliability of solar modules and has published more than a dozen research articles in internationally respected journals. He is also a founding member of India Africa Youth Energy Forum. The forum is dedicated to nurturing future energy leaders in these two market areas.