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Low-carbon market poised to expand rapidly in India

Renewable Energy is at an interesting stage in India where the question is now on how best we can tap the potential and convert the opportunity available into actual projects being developed and scaled on the ground.

Earlier this year we had noted that, Dr. Manmohan Singh- Prime Minister-India has said that the Twelfth Five Year Plan will give energy efficiency and renewable energy special emphasis. The Plan will focus on specific initiatives needed to put our development on a path consistent with low carbon growth. Energy efficiency and exploitation of renewable energy sources will receive a special emphasis.

 India could reduce the growth of carbon emissions by up to 35 percent by 2020 over 2005 levels — if it gets international finance and technology, a government panel for low-carbon strategy said last month.

According to reports, as India’s blue-chip companies hop on to the clean-and-green bandwagon, the country’s low-carbon market is poised to expand rapidly. This will provide enormous opportunities for entrepreneurs to cut fuel costs, make plants more efficient and release fewer fumes in the air, and create new business for banks that can fund the exponential growth.

A growing number of companies are adopting green practices-out of compulsion, according to Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh , and out of genuine concern for sustainability and business logic, according to top companies such as ITC, L&T , Wipro , Godrej and Boyce and dozens of other blue-chip firms.

Whatever the reason be, it is a huge market that analysts say will expand dramatically as the green cult penetrates deeper into the corporate sector. The low-carbon market in India is estimated to grow up to $135 billion in a decade, accounting for a big chunk of the global lowcarbon market estimated by HSBC to be worth $2.2 trillion in 10 years. The huge investments are also expected to generate more than 10 million green jobs. ITC Chairman YC Deveshwar says corporate profitability in future will be increasingly linked to a company’s ability to make carbon reduction.

Business opportunities – such as consultancy that is sought by a growing number of companies and demand for new processes and innovative products that reduce energy costs-have sprouted in the field of renewable energy, which is growing at 15% a year. Corporate leaders say steps to boost energy efficiency are on top of the board agenda for companies that are struggling to meet high fuel costs.

The other key drivers are incentives and pressures from the government , which has resolved to cut the emissions intensity of GDP in 2020 by 20-25 % compared to the levels in 2005. The government aims to make low-carbon growth a key pillar of the next Five-Year Plan, and has already launched initiatives and incentives for a low-carbon growth.

“I think the shift is definitely taking place. Companies are realising that there is a good business case in terms of saving and efficiency. It has become a core business issue. You will find more and more companies willing to be energy effecient. High energy costs definitely make you want to save money,” said Jamshyd Godrej, chairman of Godrej &Boyce and an industry leader in green initiatives .The government is doing its bit to make energy efficiency attractive for businesses. The National Mission for Enhanced Energy Efficiency has adopted a market-based approach to unlock energy efficiency opportunities estimated to be worth Rs 73,000 crore. By 2015, it aims to save fuel equivalent of 23 million tonnes of oil a year, or three times the annual output from Cairn India’s Rajasthan field-India’s biggest on-land oilfield.

Analysts and independent observers say energy efficiency is India’s biggest challenge and opportunity. In some steel plants, up to 50% of the energy used is lost, while sectors such as cement, aluminium, textiles, paper and power have a potential to cut energy consumption by 15-25 % using better processes and equipment.

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