Hitachi Energy, in collaboration with Network18, organized an exciting roundtable discussion on “Energy and Digital Transformation for a Carbon-Neutral Future". The panellists included Dr Praveer Sinha, CEO and Managing Director, Tata Power Company Limited; Mr Arun Kumar Mishra, CEO, EESL; Mr Debasish Mishra, Partner, Leader for Energy, Resources & Industrials (ER&I), Deloitte; and Mr Venu Nuguri, MD & CEO, India and South Asia, and Member of Executive Team, Hitachi Energy.
The development agenda of countries around the world is increasingly getting influenced by climate adaptation and mitigation strategies. For an economic powerhouse like India, where 70% of energy needs are catered to by fossil fuels like coal, current times hold great promise for a sustainable energy pathway.
Benchmarks for a carbon-neutral vision
Praveer lauded India’s COP26 commitment to sustainable development, setting an ambitious net-zero emissions target by 2070. This energy roadmap requires achieving mid-term targets like generating 500 GW through clean energy sources by 2030. India currently is at 150 GW. The panel emphasized contextualizing global benchmarks for a carbon-neutral future according to a nation’s needs and aspirations.
Praveer noted, “Tata Power is transitioning big time into clean energy space. In 2016, about 85% of power generation used to come from coal; in a matter of five years, our non-carbon energy source has reached 31%, which by 2025 is slated to grow to 60% and 80% by 2030”. These investments are distributed across energy projects, rooftop solar, microgrids to cater to all energy generation challenges, particularly in the country’s rural areas.
Collaboration between stakeholders is the key
In the light of India’s commitments at COP26, Venu considered it indispensable for all the stakeholders, including customers, industries and upstream partners, to come together and work in close coordination to achieve the mission of a sustainable energy future. He held that technology solution providers like Hitachi Energy should keep sustainability as the cornerstone of their growth strategy in the short-, mid-and long-term.
He observed that “by 2030, we want to be carbon neutral in our operations. We are also partnering with academic institutions to run a pilot scheme on eco-friendly technologies, and make them viable for local use.”
Arun held that EESL as an organization is committed to implementing energy efficiency interventions in collaboration with PSUs. The establishment of dedicated energy service companies is focused to cover the entire value chain across the length and breadth of the nation for a carbon-neutral future.
Green Hydrogen Mission – the panacea for India’s energy woes?
There is an increasing emphasis on exploring clean energy resources, especially in the backdrop of unpredictable geopolitics surrounding oil prices. The ongoing Russia-Ukraine war is a case in point. A robust clean energy strategy is particularly important for India, where 80% oil and 50% LNG gas requirements are met through imports. Debasish held that preventing the oil shock from impacting our net-zero target is essential. In this respect, India’s green hydrogen mission will play a major role, especially in ‘hard-to-abate’ sectors including fertilizer, cement and steel. where consumption cannot be electrified. The first phase of the policy allows for 25 years of free transmission for both manufacturers and consumers and will go a long way in incentivizing the adoption of green and clean energy generation. The second phase, Debasish held, will be more focused on implementing sector-wise obligations and manufacturing incentives driven by PLI schemes. Together, the emphasis is to incentivize mass-scale green hydrogen adoption by lowering costs from $5-$6 currently to around $2.
Tech Innovation and EaaS – the driver for a carbon-neutral strategy
Tata Power is making use of an online monitoring system to bring in various process improvements, including improvements in operational efficiency of modules and cells, the performance of turbines, rectifying hotspots among many interventions. Praveer emphasized that new-age technologies like Artificial Intelligence and drone monitoring help Tata Power in condition-based monitoring.
On EESL’s targets to enable a carbon-neutral future, Arun held that multi-strategy digitalization is key to business innovation. He observed that EESL is putting to use a mix of technologies enabling an efficiency improvement of 20-35% and provisioning Energy-as-a-Service (EaaS) to Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) with high user experience. He noted, “EESL is also looking at a suite of technology solutions which we can orchestrate for the benefit of grid and consumer, like battery energy storage and smart metering, to give temporal independence to the consumption and instigate behaviour change… The interplay of these technologies will facilitate multiple choices for both the consumers and supply service providers and achieve a carbon neutral future.”
Debasish seconded Arun that with the advent of EaaS companies, consumers need not go through the complexities and hassles accompanying energy source procurement and usage. He noted, “through AI and advanced analytics, it has become possible to understand consumers’ energy consumption pattern. With real-time markets, integration of renewable sources is made easy which will help EaaS companies to source clean energy from market and storage technologies”. He favoured a calibrated approach to move towards a clean energy pathway by establishing a manufacturing base and right policy structure.
Venu signed off the insightful discussion with emphasis on clean energy metrics which need wilful monitoring of carbon footprint and energy efficiency. He batted for an end-to-end digitalization of the entire value chain - generation, transmission, distribution and consumption - to take care of the evolving challenges in the energy sector.
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