Student Perspectives – Solar in the Himalayan Mountains


“I want to work towards climate change mitigation”. This was the answer I got when I thoroughly scrutinized myself in search of a purpose for my life, and I had no doubts about it. When I look around, I find people exploiting natural resources in the name of convenience and consuming much more than they need. I am a part of this society and I am equally responsible for our situation. I believe there are two ways to rectify this situation, either to influence people to change their mindset or to force them to do it. I had the option of either working in the environment sector which might have a smaller impact than directly working in a sector that humans are dependent on for fulfilling their everyday needs i.e. the energy sector. I want to contribute towards changing the energy market in such a way that makes clean energy, generated from renewable resources, an inelastic good like pharmaceuticals.

The Energy Systems Management program at USF offers a unique perspective into the energy world, and equips students with the managerial knowledge along with the skill sets necessary to work at a new-age energy company. Its board members consists of highly influential professors, researchers and industry professionals that help make it a well-rounded and industry relevant program. Many students that are currently working or previously worked in the energy sector felt they did not have the specialized knowledge needed to succeed in the field. These students have joined the Energy Systems Management program to bridge those gaps. The state of California, which is a leader in clean energy, also offers unique opportunities and a diverse network to fully embrace the renewable energy landscape. As I am switching careers and have no prior experience in this sector, this program gives me the opportunity to develop the skills and knowledge needed to be a successful energy professional.

Before beginning my journey in the states, I stumbled upon a unique opportunity in my home country, India, where I joined the Global Himalayan Expedition on one of their missions to electrify a remote Himalayan village. Here was a chance for me to promote sustainable tourism, which not only benefits the tourists but also helps maintain the local ecosystem, develops the economy and preserves its heritage. I participated in this expedition to experience the joy of having an impact on the lives of underprivileged people, and with rather minimal effort help fulfill a basic human right – access to electricity, to the many that still live without any access to it. I have shared my experience in the following article. On this adventure, I gained wonderful hands on experience and developed many soft skills that I believe will be advantageous in the next phase of my life.

As an environmentalist, I want to be able to help influence policies and provide the necessary guidance to investors and leaders looking to develop a sustainable socio-ecological world. Fighting climate change is the need of the hour and working towards eliminating it not only serves the environment, but also the population that thrives in it. With almost every major economy adopting various sources of renewable energy, we need to start accepting the technology and transition as a whole. Here, in San Francisco, we have dedicated our lives towards a cleaner and more sustainable future. Would you like to join us?

Abhinav Agrawal – University of San Francisco, Energy Systems Management – Class of  ’20

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