The Why and How: SET Masters – Part 3: Clusters

You would’ve read why I chose SET Masters in Part 1 and Part 2. The program, in its current form, comes with a mix of interesting courses in various profiles. Today I want to talk about why I chose the cluster of Solar-Power-Economics (SPE) and my journey so far purely from a personal view. And of course, my favorite courses in it!

(PS: I don’t want to talk about what courses are there and what chapters and are covered which you can anyhow get from study guide!)

Why SPE?

Okay. I need to clarify a few things first! Truthfully speaking, this was the cluster that I definitely DIDN’T want to consider. I gave a thought about all other clusters, but I was sure that I would not take any cluster with Power profile in it! Oooooo! *Shudders*. Well, drama aside, there were many reasons for that. Firstly, my vast reading in science, history, business, and technology eventually culminated in a profound interest in the economics of energy systems, the kind of policies required, the way new and upcoming RE technologies diffuse and grow, that I wanted to study without any doubt! Hence economics profile was a must.

Having a knowledge of energy economics, policies, regulations, their impact on technology and vice versa, gave me a sense of a wider understanding of the bigger picture!

Solar PV is going to be one of the most promising areas of growth in the future of RE in the energy mix of almost all the countries and more importantly so in India, for me. I didn’t want to miss out on this. So, the solar profile was a must.

Thirdly, I had interest in bioenergy in areas like waste to energy and waste management, plastics reusability, and bio-circular based economy. I felt that bioenergy promised growth in the areas where solar and wind couldn’t, especially in a country like India. So missing out on biomass profile was out of the question!

Finally, with no background in electrical and electronics engineering, I knew I didn’t want to take Power! As simple as that. Voila! The choice of my cluster was clear! Woohoo! Wait, except, such a cluster did not exist! And the program director ruled out creating clusters of our own. What a pity! Hence my only option was to change my cluster which didn’t have power and satisfied all other requirements. One glance at the list of clusters reveals that you cannot choose solar and economics without power, and, biomass came only with storage and economics. Hence, I had to sacrifice either biomass or solar to have economics in the mix. 2 months and a number of useless hours spent thinking later, I chose Solar Power and Economics as my cluster!

The fact of the matter is, quite often, we either underestimate or do not fully comprehend the awesome possibilities that lay ahead of us if only we are trying to push ourselves a little further. While I cursed myself for choosing power, I didn’t quite realise that I had the ability to take the courses and get through them. I got bogged down by the fact that I didn’t choose what I wanted and kept whining about what I don’t. 3 quarters later, I seem to enjoy doing courses in power and even see a chance of working on my thesis in economics and power profiles! I must admit that the journey has not definitely been smooth and rosy, its definitely better than the picture I painted to myself!

Favorites!

To begin with, ‘Economics and Regulations of Sustainable Energy Systems’ from Q1, has been my top favorite course, taught by the maverick Professor Servaas Storm. Another awesome course, that initially felt a little annoying was ‘Energy Systems Optimization’. I personally got to appreciate the awesomeness of this course only after Q1. Phew, typical human, realize the value of something only after it has passed over and left!

Intelligent Electrical Power Grids in Q3 was another interesting course that gave me an overall picture on what happens in the grid, what happens when you turn on that switch in your room and why is it a pain to integrate the uncontrollable RES like Solar and wind. Finally, Economics Policy for Sustainable energy in Q3 was one of the courses I’d been waiting to do. Qualitatively and quantitatively understanding the impact of policies and regulations on externalities like CO2 emissions and economic impacts of curbing them.

In my next write up, I will get back more on my favorites and will give a deeper insight into various other courses and what you can expect from them!

Namaste.

Zee.

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