CleanTech: Past, Present & Future

Date:   Tuesday , February 01, 2011

Clean technology, better known as CleanTech today, can be defined as any technology, product, service or process which includes a limited usage of non-renewable resources and delivers significantly lesser waste than the conventional offerings in the market. CleanTech not only entails the usage of non-renewable power sources, but also involves efficient usage of existing natural resources and increase in the efficiency of existing distribution systems, e.g. energy and water. Some of the major clean technology sectors are – hydro power, solar power, wind power, power distribution systems, bio-fuels, water filtration, green buildings, Smart Grid, public transportation.

Clean technology, in the 1970s and 1980s, was considered to be an expensive alternative to the technologies prevalent during those times, a pleasure for the richer and effluent mass or advocates of back-to-the-land lifestyle, and a province of the environmentalists or scientists with huge research funds. The continued exponential growth of the world economy over the last few decades, the depletion and fear of exhaustion of the natural resources, volatile energy and petroleum prices, environmental concerns, and huge losses and inefficiency in the distribution system have forced a major rethink on the usage of clean technologies. These technologies are not only more efficient and reduce the strain on the limited natural resources, but also contribute to a cleaner and greener earth.

Consequently, the governments throughout the world have put an increased focus on the rapid development of these clean technologies and their efficient deployment in all types of industries, distribution system and even in the day-to-day lives of the people. Denmark which generate most of their power from wind energy, and some regions of the USA and mainstream Europe are classic examples and role models for countries globally on how to effectively employ at least few of these technologies.

Clean technologies have become even more relevant for rapidly developing economies like India and China. These countries have a continued and ever-rising demand for cleaner and greener power. The mass adoption of these technologies at a very rapid pace becomes even more necessary for India due to its huge power demand which is not being met by the existing power generation infrastructure, large amounts of transmission losses, ever increasing energy theft, continued depletion of natural resources and the greenery cover, acute water shortage, and the astronomically huge and ever increasing demand pool, i.e. the Indian population.

The two main focus areas for application and development of clean technologies have been reduction of green house gas emmissions, and efficient utilization and conservation of energy. Several new technologies are being developed and various new laws are being passed to achieve the two objectives mentioned above. Both the industrial fraternity and the various governments have also been taking various measures to encourage the usage of clean technologies.

As per a recent report by ‘Economic Times’ India has undertaken an unofficial discussion mechanism that would facilitate adoption of climate technology by industrialised and developing economies in a cost effective manner. India has set June 2011 as the date for operationalising this mechanism. India has also been taking several steps for increased adoption of cleaner and greener technologies in the villages, Indian industries, and by the common masses.

Clean Technology Initiative (CTI), is another such program of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) emphasizing on private voluntary initiatives to promote cleaner, climate friendly technologies and improve environmental management practices. Implementation and promotion of the concept of carbon accounting among Indian industries is one of the initiatives of the overall Clean Technology Initiative program.The results of the carbon accounting road test will help the GHG Protocol Initiative develop a common standard for measuring and reporting business greenhouse gas emissions from the developing country perspective.

CTI has established a dedicated Environmental Information Center at FICCI that compile and distribute information on energy efficiency and clean technologies, environmental policies, regulations and company success stories. The main objective of EIC is to facilitate business-to-business linkages in the area of environmental technologies, products and services, with a special emphasis on clean as well as greenhouse gas mitigating technologies.
The result of such initiatives has given impetus to various new and innovative technologies that are being recognized and are open handedly welcomed by the industrial fraternity who are not only ready to experiment but also paying a premium price for such technologies.

CleanTech not only helps the humankind and is a gift to the rapidly deteriorating environment, but also provides a vital opportunity for the existing and new companies to commercialize and generate huge profits from a limitless and relatively untapped market. As a consequence, global players like GE, Goldman Sachs, Toyota, and several other companies are making investments to the tune of billions in clean technology. The new startups which provide new and innovative clean technologies are also supporting to the otherwise chugging train of CleanTech adoption.

One of the major domains (more applicable in the Indian context) of CleanTech is increased utilization and efficiency of the energy transmission and consumption. As per a recent study by the Indian Planning Commission, the bane of power sector in India seems to be the high transmission and distribution (T&D) losses which account for almost 40 per cent of the electricity produced. It would be close to impossible for any society or commercial entity to sustain such high scale losses. Further, the huge amount of power theft and the already bleeding power generation infrastructure in India would derail all efforts for empowerment and development of the Indian population and initiatives to make the nation a global economic force.

The Indian government too, with the help of industrial chambers and associations like FICCI (Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry) and CII (Confederation of Indian Industry), and several heavyweight companies, has been working towards achieving increased energy efficiencey and generation of power from renewable sources. The governement and industrial chambers have organized special inititatives to promote new and innovative technologies and to encourage new startups working in this domain. Consequently, several new startups have sprung up across India which focus on various aspects of CleanTech.

In two separate initiatives organized by FICCI and DST Lockheed Martin, and CII and Agilent Technologies, an Indian startup “P2 Power Solutions” was adjudged as the best innovator for its flagship active filter (iCon) product. The company, founded in 2006 by a bunch of IIT Kharagpur graduates, works in the clean and green technology space in India and claims to address the two big concerns – high distribution losses and lack of power generation infrastructure – for the overall development of the Indian economy and upliftment of the vast Indian population. The company is focused to change the power generation and distribution landscape in India through its avant-garde solutions on energy efficiency, power quality enhancement and renewable energy sources.

Such recognitions to these young and talented upcoming companies and an encouraging market response indicate readiness of the market for not only accepting these new technologies but also giving the startups a chance to prove themselves.

Cleantech has become the new buzz word in the global market today.Times are not far when it would become a revolution making a great contribution to conserving the depleting resources of the planet.

Author is the CEO & Founder of P2 Power Solutions