Going Back to the Roots...Experiences and Lessons Learnt in Oldenburg

by Karun Yarlagadda, India (PPRE 2013/15)

From my early days in bachelors until recently, I was living with the belief and thought that the energy (electricity and fossil fuel for transportation) is the most essential commodity/service to develop the developing world. These ideas and thinking were driven by living in industrial society since childhood and studying western (now Indian too) ideologies of means and modes of development. I worked in oil industry before I came to Germany to make the world switch to renewable energy for sustainable development. My initial plan was to specialize in wind physics and the development of simulation tools. Germany is one among the few countries who were and are expert in this field and thus I decided to come to Germany. In 2013, I got the admission and joined the University of Oldenburg to pursue the Postgraduate Programme Renewable Energy (PPRE) and I completed it successfully in 2015.

Learnings and Experiences in relation to renewable energy

Life is too busy in the study programme of PPRE. Over the two semesters we had hands on experience on the major RE technologies: PV system, Solar Thermal System, Biogas digester, Wind energy converter and Hydro Power. I also became quite efficient in data analysis.

In early 2015, with some personal motivation I decided to work on developing a solar PV air conditioning system based on thermal storage, with an expectation to start a venture. The product was intended for Indian households. At the end of the year I found that the system cost was too high and the consumer cannot afford. I had to drop this project. I thank PPRE staff and staff of other departments at the University who supported me to carry out this work.

Events which changed my perspective's on life and living on earth and influenced me to go back to India

The first learning stage for me was the task to present about my country as part of the PPRE programme. While I was looking for the material for presentation, I went through some documentaries about History of India. This was the first time in the adulthood I learned little bit about Indian civilization. However, it made very less impact as the attention of my mind was towards other subjects.

During April 2014, the students of PPRE 2012, have organized a workshop on sustainability, wherein I took part as a volunteer ( At this workshop I was exposed to the broader concepts of sustainability: post growth economics, transitions towns and etc. The lectures and workshops have made me understand things about the life on planet on a broader level.

One of my hobbies is to watch movies or documentaries based on true stories. On a random occasion, during the first semester, I watched the documentary “Schooling the world: the white man's last burden”. This was one of the important incident in my life which shook my foundations as I realized that I am already a victim and slave of the capitalist system.

I got more insights in ecological economics through the sustainability course of PPRE programme.   Furthermore, the PPRE 2012 students have kept me in the loop and introduced me to the Degrowth Conference 2014, to be held in Leipzig. The Degrowth event has led me to new horizons where I met many activists from around the world from farming to alternative currency sector. I happened to meet few Indian activist's with whom I had a glimpse of what is the real state of Indian development and they recommended literatures like Hind Swaraj by Mahatma Gandhi. After partly reading the book Hind Swaraj, the realization that I was living in a bubble all these years has strengthened. Upon pondering upon the concepts of post growth and degrowth, I wanted to learn more about economics of the present day society and how the welfare of the society is linked to it. This has finally led me to choose my final MSc-thesis topic as: “Impact of renewable energy on the National Welfare Index (NWI) of Germany”.  In August 2015, I happen to travel to India and worked on a small project: “energy and economics of village India: Farming as Livelihood”.

Combining the effects of all the above learning’s and experiences, I have realized that in the present jeopardized society, the usage of energy services may have some role in progressing human lifes, but for establishing a long term and sustainable civilization, energy as such is not an important requirement or need.

I and we all know the fact that food is most crucial and essential for survival of life on the planet and this segment is completely left out to farmers in villages. Thus, I decided to go back to the fundamentals and serve humanity by means of providing good food and also help the small farmers to have a reasonable life. With the help of people I got associated at different events, I have finally decided to join a not for profit organization called Timbaktu, located in dry and tropical climate in south India.

Coming to Oldenburg was the best thing I did so far in my life. I have got the enlightenment I needed. Before I arrive in Germany I had a dream of driving a BMW on German Autobahn. However I lack a desire for it now. I am in love with Bikes (bi-cycles) and I want to buy one once I am back in India. Hope my journey would be peaceful and help develop the society wherever I am.

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