Time to act

Time to act

Leena Pishe Thomas gives her appraisal of the Delhi brainstorm event.

I was not sure what to expect when I was invited to this event – A CNBC Global Energy Brainstorming Session – happening in New Delhi on Dec 5, 2013. Will this be a discussion, presentations, hobnobbing, networking with business, research and finance community? Or will this be an initiative to take all the thinking and talking that is going around to put it into some action?

It was fun to meet people involved in energy from fossil fuels to clean energy and then came the real excitement when the format of the Brainstorming session was revealed by presenter Geoff Cutmore, with all participants assigned tables that would come up with “The Idea” for the energy sector!

I think I can speak for all participants, when I say that we had a chance to let our imaginations run wild. However, it is amazing what such a process can bring to the fore! I was surprised that the end product, post 3 rounds of brainstorming and shortlisting ideas, had a fair amount of practicality. The question really was where do we all see India’s energy game arriving at by 2035, and how?

The ideas that were pitched ranged from the need for a balanced energy portfolio, need for technology breakthroughs, focussing more on offshore energy (this pitch was actually called “Baywatch”), financially viable distributed power generation and smart grid integration, drawing up separate plans for India’s urban and rural energy supply, power in a box to be made available like a consumer product and arriving there with a mix of policy, financing and entrepreneurial actions! It left me thinking - can we summarise easily and simply what needs to be done and get on with it.

Technologies are available and being deployed already in many parts of the world. China and Brazil are actively sourcing new technologies, innovating their own deployment models.

While fossil fuels will continue to be around, a purposeful move to cleaner fuels in India is possible. The mood of the room was focussed on Indian entrepreneurs driving this change, in spite of the Government.

India’s great entrepreneurs, new age distributed renewable power generation, power storage, smart grids, financially viable business models and innovative adaptation of technology for local applications through proper technology management can really make things happen.

While thinking is a good start, India has not seen that much action.

A multipronged effort to leverage energy opportunities should see Business/Entrepreneurs lead and work with Customers, to show Government and Financing the way.

Several countries have implemented ambitious cutting edge energy projects and there are best practises and commercially viable technologies, business models that Indian can adopt, adapt and deploy. There are organizations that can help Indian entrepreneurs in identifying technology, financing, business models and build their capacity to drive change.  India has a great opportunity to also get on the technology development curve and take new innovations to market.

It is time to act, entrepreneurs can source/develop technologies, build their capacity, influence government and financing community and show the way forward. This is the way forward for India. It is time we stop waiting for government or subsidies to take the lead, instead let us create cross cutting platforms and positively motivate policy makers to see the viability.

Some game changers I see, just representative of (imagine!) what can be done:

Highview Power Storage (www.highview-power.com) – exploring 5 MW power generation plant in India using waste heat from steel factories and the technology can also help with renewable energy storage, peak load management and grid management.

Sargas (www.sargas.no ) – a gas-fired power generation plant that also captures CO2 which can be used for enhanced oil recovery – a wedding of fossil fuel and GHG emission reduction

Meshpower (www.meshpower.co.uk )– Smart DC grid solution

Gasrec (www.gasrec.co.uk ) – municipal waste to energy

Solar cooling, solar microgrids – Many international and domestic players keen to scale deployment…..

There are plenty of these types of innovative and deployable solutions. It’s not rocket science! Let us tap it! Let us create a system by which entrepreneurs can learn about what is out there, make informed decisions on what can be very simply and easily done.  The engines of our economy – the entrepreneurs – can leverage this to create new “energy opportunities” and thereby drive a much needed economic growth for India.

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About the author

Leena Pishe Thomas: International Business, Technology and Project Management Specialist and Director, Global Business Inroads and Regional Manager, European Business & Technology Centre, Bengaluru.

Leena has over 15 years’ experience in the field of International Business, Technology and Project Management in the Energy, Environment, Transport, Biotech, Agro-Food, Education and Innovation Sector and has worked with various European, North American, Russian, Canadian and Asian organizations.

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