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India poised for leadership position

Jul 28, 2008 - Rajiv Tikoo - The Financial Express

India is promising to become the world’s clean energy hot spot. Seven trends are catalysing the evolution of low-carbon economy in India. These include big investment in renewables, proactive role of state governments, emerging IT solutions for emission reduction, innovative microfinance schemes, clean transport, carbon markets and corporate interest in rural renewables, says a new report.

Giving an insight into these trends, India: Renewable Energy Trends points out that the country has become the third most attractive destination, after the US and Germany, for investment in renewable energy. The credit goes not only to enterprising entrepreneurs, cleantech investors, venture capital and private equity communities, but also to the government for creating an enabling environ- ment by formulating favourable policies.

It’s not only top down progress, but also bottom up. Indian states are leading the way. While the ministry of new and renewable energy is in favour of generating 10% of electricity from renewables by 2010 and 20% by 2020, Karnataka is already open to raising the target from 10% to 20%. Eleven other states are also serious about generating 0.5% to 10% of their energy mix from renewable sources.

Companies are looking beyond proven wind and solar technologies and coming up with solutions to face challenges from climate change. IT companies have developed technologies that measure and manage energy usage. Wipro is working on a suite of IT-enabled solutions to help clients become carbon neutral. At the other end of spectrum are smart home townships like Palm Meadows in Hyderabad, where IT systems help in managing energy consumption, and developers like SA Habitat, which are planning to work with start-ups like Valence Energy to utilise IT platforms to build solar powered homes.

Small is becoming big when you look at the mushrooming of microfinance and micro-utilities. MFIs like Sewa Bank, Basix and SKS Microfinance have come up with specialised lending models for clean energy products and services. A case in point is Selco’s partnership with Sewa Bank and others. Selco has offered home lights systems to lakhs of poor people at affordable terms. Similarly, micro-utility entrepreneurs, who offer solar lanterns on daily rentals, have become the brand ambassadors of Teri’s Light a Billion Lives campaign.

In cities, it’s the deployment of clean transport that symbolises the progress in renewables. While Delhi leads the rest of the country with the deployment of transport run on CNG, Bangalore-based Reva has been selling its plug-in electric car...

"India Renewable Energy Trends" http://www.csmworld.org/public/pdf/CSM-DP-Ringwald-July08.pdf