Clean Technology & India

Date:   Tuesday , February 01, 2011

“Every disaster is a Change” we are quite familiar with this poster wording it is actually true in all perspective. Global warming or the concept of increase in global temperature due to the increasing presence of greenhouse. When Wallace Broecker of Columbia University coined the term “Global Warming”, he might not have anticipated the birth of a booming industry where the attempt to reverse or at least curb this issue, called the clean technology would be born. This also included the growing energy crunch. The conventional energy resources are poised to many threats and security issues due to which now it is the time to not think but implement alternate energy resources. Two major countries in the world, India and China who are in constant R&D for balancing clean technology. In 2007–2008 Gallup Polls had conducted a survey in 127 countries about global warming. Over a third of the world’s population was unaware of global warming, with people in developing countries less aware than those in developed. But now the scenario has been changed. Though India is a developing country it has attracted huge investments in clean technology sector and shows promise that she will be an emerging power in the clean technology sector soon.

The clean tech future is vivid and the scope will be stupendous. Actually India needs more initiatives like clean technology to adapt the climate change phenomenon. It is really appreciable that India is becoming a hub for clean tech. Many industry bigwigs already announced their expansion plans to India. The central government has announced some subsidiaries to the solar industry. However we need a national level policy for clean technology. The state governments should setup a technology cell within the Industries department or Information Technology department to provide information and other support on clean technologies.

Undoubtedly we can say that clean technology is one of the emerging sectors in India. The overall level of awareness for doing more with resources as well as creating alternative sources of energy is high. There is a considerable push from the central government in terms of incentives, resources and subsidies to the sector which makes more capital efficient. The Centre should study the future of the industry and take some steps which can motivate the sector and the entrepreneurs. India has a very large and growing market, many experienced executives who are returning from the US or any other foreign countries to India for any reasons are now either joining or starting clean tech companies. As a result these unexplored innovations are actually interesting to many investors and venture capitalists. Especially the young generation has realized the possibility of the sector and the end products are undoubtedly groundbreaking.

Talking to a layman, clean technology would be to him the setting up of solar panels, wind turbines, building more dams and other forms of harnessing renewable sources of energy. Or he may speak about recycling, waste management’s, biogas, etc. But in today’s world there is one segment which is proving to be equally effective; it’s the management side of clean technology. This is the space where technology steps in to conserve and monitor energy usage and other forms of wastages. Starting from creating bio-degradable plastics to green cement or concrete to creating advanced building management system come under this domain of the clean technology industry.

If you look at the power usage in India or in the world, the requirement never comes down nor does the generation catch up to the demand. This results in the demand supply gap increasing at the same time the urgency to go for more polluting forms of power generation which contributes more to the global warming. The recent concept of BMS (building management System), the Smart Grid etc try to hit the nail on the head by trying to conserve and manage the power which is originally produced to match the demand. Recent advances in engineering has vastly increased the efficiency of various devices and equipments and the entry of advanced automated management system which includes Artificial Intelligence based systems and SWARM based systems have helped predict and balance the supply demand variance curve. These systems have become so advanced that they are even able to monitor and advice the managers of the installation on efficiency improvement changes. The smart grid is another space where these advanced technologies have made a big difference. The smart grid like the name suggests are able to manipulate and manage the power generators and power consumers into a adaptive balanced state by using various systems and algorithms. The niche point in this system is the fact that the gap or differentiation between a generator and consumer is reduced. Anyone with a solar panel, regardless of being a consumer automatically becomes a power generator too. This concept could be thought of as the ancient barter system which was present in most villages in the country.

Coming to an economic outlook, clean technology is a good catalyst for the economic growth of a nation, provided the central government is pro active in executing the latest technology. Many MNCs have shown interest in investing in India and some of them are already started working on it which is actually a good sign. The International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private sector lending arm of the World Bank has guaranteed $300 million for renewable energy project developments in India. Also the banking major HSBC to fund energy efficiency projects in India. The clean Technology sector is predicted to have intense investments in the coming years. According to reports in 2009, Indian clean tech industry had attracted $2.3 billion in private investment, placing India tenth in the G-20’s investment ranking. All these developments prove that clean technology is India’s treasure.

Although it would seem that technology is unable to catch up to the rate at which the situation is degrading, but if we include the speed at which technology advancements are happenings, a time frame of less than ten years can be given as the time to achieve break-even.

Author is the CEO of Artin Dynamics