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India urges clean tech for sustainability

Posted: 27 Jun 2008 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:renewable energy? biofuel? solar? ecosystem?

A clean technology special interest group (SIG) has been recently formed to encourage entrepreneurs in India to create an ecosystem of scientists, engineers, investors and social entrepreneurs.

The group is intended to create a platform for networking and exchanging information while encouraging entrepreneurs to help boost innovation in renewable energy.

In 2007, venture capitalists invested about $3 billion in clean technology ventures, a 43 percent increase over the previous year. Of that total, 10 percent was in clean tech startups. "In India, where fuel prices are going up every year by eight to nine percent, this represents an opportunity to innovate and create profitable businesses in renewable energy," said Ashok Das, one of the SIG members spearheading the clean tech effort.

Rising energy market
Today, renewable energy in India is a $600-million market growing at the rate of 15 percent annually. India ranks fifth in the world in renewable energy capacity. Its renewable energy target for 2030 is 200GW, up from its current 8GW. The goal will require an estimated $200 billion capital investment.

To sustain eight percent GDP growth, India must generate 500mW power weekly over the next 25 years. Planners have determined that the goal cannot be reached through the conventional sources of coal and natural gas plants.

Energy options for India
India currently consumes about 2.66 million barrels of oil a day and almost all of them are imported. Analysts expect energy demand to double by 2030. Hence, energy generation is a priority, with several companies looking at developing alternative sources of energy. Among the plans are establishing manufacturing plants for solar, wind or biofuel equipment.

Suneel Parasnis, country director, New Ventures India, said: "The magnitude of investment needed in the energy sector of developing economies is $9.6 trillion, while renewable energy investments by 2030 would reach $1 trillion."

"Large companies in India are just not able to capitalize on this," Parasnis said. "For instance, India is the largest producer of milk in the world, but 50 percent of it has to be dumped in the drains because of lack of electricity and cooling infrastructure," he added.

According to Parasnis, subsidies are not the way to promote sustainability in the renewal energy market. "What we require now is the push through government policies to facilitate technology transfer and benefits not only to power generators but also to renewable power consumers," he noted.

Bob Kondamoori, managing partner, Sandalwood Partners, said: "You have to reduce the cost. Using current polysilicon or thin-film technology won't achieve the critical mass in solar energy generation. If newer technologies exist anywhere around the world, we have to get them here."

- Sufia Tippu
EE Times

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