Salman Zafar: Prospects for Bioenergy and WTE as a career

Salman Zafar

Salman Zafar is a cleantech entrepreneur, consultant, writer and speaker with many successfully projects under his belt including biogas technology, biomass utilisation, waste-to-energy and solid waste management. He has several published articles in international journals and strives to create mass awareness about this domain.  His organisations include BioEnergy Consult (India), Global Vantage (LLC) and QVICORP (Qatar)

He talks to Bhavani Prakash of Green Collar Asia about industry trends, and offers tips for professionals trying to enter this sector.

Green Collar Asia: How did you become so interested in renewable energy, and waste-to-energy technologies?

Salman Zafar: I am a chemical engineer by education. After completing my Master’s degree program in 2004, I got the opportunity to work as a Research Fellow at India Institute of Technology Roorkee (India) on large-scale biogas power projects which initiated me into waste-to-energy/biomass sector. During the course of my two-year fellowship, I was involved in the design, operation and troubleshooting of biogas plants and other biomass energy projects. The idea of converting wastes into clean and useful energy appealed to me in a big way, and after completing my education in 2006 I started writing articles and blogs on biomass energy and waste management which were well-received around the world. A Swedish gentleman read one of my articles and was so impressed that he asked me to prepare a comprehensive report on biomass wastes in Southeast Asia and there was no looking back from that day onwards.

Green Collar Asia: As a leading authority in Asia and the Middle East in this  realm, can you give an overview of the trends in the region?

Salman Zafar: The rapid increase in population, rising standards of living and scarcity of waste disposal sites has precipitated a major environmental crisis in Asia and the Middle East. Municipalities are finding it extremely hard to deal with mountains of garbage accumulating in and around urban centres. Reduction in the volume and mass of municipal waste is a crucial issue especially in the light of limited availability of final disposal sites in many parts of the world.

The global market for waste to energy technologies has shown substantial growth over the last five years, increasing from $4.83 billion in 2006, to $7.08 billion in 2010 with continued market growth through the global economic downturn. Over the coming decade, growth trends are expected to continue, led by expansion in the US, European, Chinese, Asia-Pacific and Indian markets. Asian and Middle Eastern countries have seriously begun to view waste-to-energy technology as a sustainable alternative to landfills for disposing waste while generating clean energy.

Green Collar Asia: What are the drivers that are required for waste-to-energy technologies to scale up? What kind of policy support would be conducive?

Salman Zafar: Waste-to-energy technologies cannot prosper without political, legislative and financial support from different stakeholders. Close and long-term cooperation between municipalities, planners, project developers, technology companies, utilities, investors and general public is indispensable for the success of any waste-to-energy project. Energy recovery from wastes should be universally accepted as the fourth ‘R’ in a sustainable waste management program involving Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. An interesting fact is that countries (like Sweden, Denmark and Germany) which have reduced dependence on landfills have the highest recycling rates, and they have achieved this in combination with waste-to-energy.

Green Collar Asia: Which areas/regions are investing most in renewable energy, or rather where do you see a lot of activity?

Salman Zafar: China, United States, Germany, India and Brazil are witnessing a good deal of activity in the cleantech sector. China has made rapid progress in renewable energy sector, particular in wind energy, and invested more than USD 50 billion in different renewable energy resources in 2010. India is among a top destination for renewable energy investments with more than USD 4 billion pouring in for solar, wind and biomass projects in 2010. Brazil has also made strong investment in clean energy and is the market leader in Latin America.

Green Collar Asia: As a keynote speaker and panelist for several events, do you see a growth in the number of conferences in renewable energy, and new locations for these?

Salman Zafar: Yes, there has been significant proliferation in academic as well as industrial conferences in recent years. Renewable energy has caught the attention of the policy-makers, academic institutions, corporates, entrepreneurs and masses because of concerns related to global warming, industrial pollution and dwindling fossil fuel reserves. Infact, oil-rich countries like UAE and Saudi Arabia are working on large clean energy projects to mitigate the harmful environmental effects of the oil and gas industry.

As far as new venues for renewable energy conferences are concerned, countries like United Arab Emirates, India, China and Singapore are in the limelight. Worldwide enthusiasm for renewable energy has increased dramatically in recent years, and hundreds of conferences and exhibitions are being organized each year at hitherto unknown destinations.

Green Collar Asia: What skills and competencies are required for this field?

Salman Zafar: Skills for renewable energy jobs are more or less the same as that required for traditional jobs. The capability to transfer traditional skills to a green energy project is a crucial factor for any industry professional. Renewable energy jobs are heavily based on core knowledge areas like math, science, engineering and technology. To get an edge, it would be beneficial to get specialized knowledge and experience in the areas of energy efficiency, waste management, environmental policies, natural resource management, computer modeling tools etc. A wide variety of jobs are on offer in renewable energy sector, such as managers, process operators, engineers, IT professionals, computer systems engineers, designers, technicians etc.

Green Collar Asia: What advice would you give to professionals entering this sector?

Salman Zafar:  Being a relatively new industrial segment, it is advisable not to rush things while entering renewable energy sector. Focusing your education on core knowledge areas is the first step towards a green energy career. There is an avalanche of jobs in renewable energy sector, and key to success is to use your transferable skills to get a job in renewable energy.

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You may follow Salman Zafar through his website at Bioenergyconsult and Cleantechsolutions .  He runs the Facebook group Biomass Energy and can be contacted at salman[at]cleantechloops.com.  Follow him on Twitter @salmanzafar1979

ASK OUR EXPERT:  If you have any questions to ask our expert, Salman Zafar on any aspect related to renewable energy, biogas, biomass, waste-to-energy, whether it’s a technical question, or a green career related one, please leave a comment below for him to reply.

About the interviewer:

Bhavani Prakash is the Founder of Green Collar Asia. She is a recruiter, speaker, trainer and writer in the environment/sustainability sector.  To connect with Green Collar Asia,  please see Contact Us. 

Comments

  1. MOhammed says:

    Interesting article very impressed with Dr. Salman Zafar views and passion towards the subject.

    It will be great to read more about the advice for new students or graduate in this failed

    Mohammed,

  2. Mike Simpson says:

    Salman,
    Congrations; I have worked with you in the US for years and continue to to be increasingly impressed by your knowledge and communication skills. I will forward this website to colleagues.
    Thanks you.

  3. aditya n.s says:

    Good to see passionate beings like you are propagating the cause of renewables and waste. Hope the passion trickles down to many other youngsters in time to come. Highly inspirational

    aditya n.s
    ecocentric technologies

  4. Salman says:

    Thanks Aditya. Your kind words will go a long way in helping me to scale new peaks. I am confident that young readers will be highly interested in exploring renewable energy and waste management spheres as a career option in the coming years.

  5. christal says:

    Sir, ‎​i like your work and what you do. ‎​I want to know more about renewable energy. ‎​I want to further my studies in it but ‎​i am more interested in renewable energy- biogas and bioenergy. Is there a specific major like the one i mentioned without having to include water energy, solar energy etc. Thank you.

  6. Jefferson says:

    Thank you for composing “Salman Zafar: Prospects for Bioenergy
    and WTE as a career”. Imay undoubtedly end up being coming back for
    alot more reading through and commenting soon enough.
    I am grateful, Wilfredo

Trackbacks

  1. […] Salman Zafar, Founder of Cleantech Solutions talks to Bhavani Prakash of Green Collar Asia about industry trends, and offers tips for professionals trying to enter this sector. This interview was originally published on http://www.greencollarasia.com and is being republished with the kind permission of Bhavani Prakash. Readers may find the unabridged version at http://goo.gl/YUipG […]

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