EJN Workshop in Patna, India, Trained 27 Communicators on Renewable Energy 

journalist filming an interview on the street
EJN Workshop in Patna, India, Trained 27 Communicators on Renewable Energy 

Bihar, an agrarian state in eastern India, has made significant strides to achieve universal electrification, however, the frequency and quality of electricity is far from adequate. Further, it is heavily dependent on coal, which accounts for approximately 92% of the state’s installed power capacity. There is an urgent need to transition to low- carbon sources of energy, and to do so in a just and equitable way.  

To better understand Bihar's pathways to renewable energy – and the challenges impeding its progress – EJN selected 27 communicators for a workshop held in the state’s capital city, Patna, from 15-17 September. Over three days, participants learned more about renewable energy issues from policymakers, gender experts, industry leaders, researchers and senior journalists.  

On the first day, they heard from Khagesh Choudhary, from the Bihar Renewable Energy Development Association (BREDA), who shared details of the state’s innovative efforts to achieve 40% of installed renewable capacity by 2030, which sought to boost clean energy without demanding large tracts of land.  

Vivek Jha, energy expert and consultant with World Bank and ADB, spoke about the country’s impending energy crisis, and underscored the need to hybridize production and develop better storage solutions. 

speaker pointing at a presentation
Parimita Mohanty speaks to workshop participants / Credit: Manasi Pinto.

Parimita Mohanty, Energy and Gender Specialist at the United Nations Environment Programme, drew attention to the fact that without inviting women to the decision-making table to ensure that policies reflected their needs and perspectives, it would not be a just energy transition. 

Mani Bhushan Jha from the World Resources Institute (WRI), which is helping the state draft its renewable energy policy, used climate models to show how Bihar would be impacted by climate impacts in the future, and discussed how different districts of the state were primed for RE production.  

a group of people filming on a phone
Communicators try their hand at MoJo / Credit: Manasi Pinto. 

Founders of InOldNews and EJN consultants Manon Verchot and Sanshey Biswas walked the participants through strategies for good visual storytelling and, over the course of the workshop, showed them how to edit video and audio footage using free online software. 

Watch a snippet from the workshop, created by the facilitators here. 

Saugata Datta, CEO of Husk Power Systems, noted the importance of the private sector in bridging the electricity gap and hastening the transition to renewables.  

When sharing feedback after the workshop, participants said they found the sessions “helpful”, noting they “gained significant technical understanding about renewable energy” and were better able to understand “the current situation and the future road map for India in the renewable energy sector.” 

Participants also had the opportunity to visit the Husk Power mini-grid in Lalganj, Bihar, which seeks to meet the electricity requirements of households, factories and local businesses with solar power. 

“The field trip expanded our understanding of renewable energy. I think that the rich can avail of RE, but the poor need government help, subsidy and financial assistance,” said Rahul Singh, freelance journalist. 

people interviewing someone across a table
The participants interviewed owners of small factories, shopkeepers, an internet facility provider and a restaurant owner to understand how solar energy has benefitted them / Credit: Manasi Pinto.
participants discuss next steps around a table
Participants discussed their story pitches and received feedback on their ideas at the end of the workshop / Credit: Manasi Pinto.

Toward the end of the workshop, participants regrouped to understand the state of energy reporting in India, in a session led by EJN India Manager Joydeep Gupta. He pointed out not only the scope of investigative journalism, but also the common mistakes made by communicators reporting on the energy transition. The group discussed various story ideas, and debated how best to capture the human angle in scientific stories. They sharpened their pitches with support from industry experts and EJN media trainers, who presented them with new perspectives and angles. 

Read stories produced by Ashish Kataria and Mohsina Malik here and stories by Rajan Choudhary here and here.  

Banner image: Ashish Kataria in front of camera-person Mohsina Akhtar as they create a multimedia report on a solar minigrid in Lalganj, Bihar / Credit: Manasi Pinto. 

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