India’s energy transition – opportunities for the UK

By Prasenjit Dhar

In his Independence Day speech, the Indian Prime Minister once again highlighted the country’s ongoing focus on energy transition and the leading role India aims to play in the global arena.  Mr Modi said ‘If we become powerful in the energy sector, India can help those countries that want to dispel their darkness’, and in many ways, India is already a force in the global energy transition.

With the size of the country and its projected economic growth, the direction and rate of India’s energy transition will affect the global environment as well as the world’s markets for energy and energy systems. The country has huge ambitions for renewable energy and energy efficiency, aiming for 450 GW of renewables and about 40% of electricity generation by 2030 and greatly improved energy efficiency.

India has already taken major strides towards achieving this goal. Currently the installed renewable energy capacity in India stands at around 88 GW. Of this, the biggest share comes from solar (around 34.8 GW) and wind (around 37.7 GW). Biomass and small hydro power constitute around 9.9 GW and 4.7 GW, respectively. Not only at the country level, India has also been at the forefront of global renewable energy front with the International Solar Alliance, which it initiated in 2015 and currently works with 121 countries.

The Indian government, through its initiatives and policies is trying to further the growth in renewables and increase energy efficiency in a big way. It has, under the Ministry of Power, set up Energy Efficiency Services Ltd (EESL) which is a joint venture of four reputed public-sector energy sector undertakings – NTPC Limited, Power Finance Corporation Limited, REC Limited and PowerGrid Corporation of India Limited. EESL is now acknowledged as a world leader in scaling up energy efficiency. Its flagship LED lighting programme, UJALA, has now deployed over 366 million LEDs, helping to bring their cost down by a factor of 100 by aggregating demand. In addition, the company has installed 10 million smart LED street lights and is the lead agency for multiple programmes including smart meters, high efficiency air conditioning, efficient motors and even electric vehicles and their associated charging infrastructure.

EESL is now developing new business models that will help provide distributed solar energy to rural areas in India, as well as battery storage, street lights and efficient appliances. These business models – nothing less than rethinking the model of the utility – promise to reduce the distribution companies’ losses, increase the use of renewable power, bring street lighting to areas without it, and make cooking cleaner, safer and cheaper. In order to achieve its ambition, EESL is working with international businesses, including from the UK, to seek products and technologies that can support India with its energy transition.

EESL has been working closely with one of UKIBC’s key energy sector members, EnergyPro Asset Management Ltd. Since 2017 EESL has invested more than GBP 60 million into the UK through a joint venture (EPAL) with EnergyPro, acquiring energy efficiency projects and a combined heat and power company, Edina. EESL is now using Edina’s know-how to sell financed trigeneration projects in India, addressing the urgent need for more sustainable cooling solutions. The joint venture, EPAL, was recently named as the fastest growing Indian owned company in the UK.

According to Dr Steven Fawkes, Chairman and Founder of EnergyPro Asset Management Ltd, “we are now using our relationship with EESL and other Indian companies to identify requirements in the Indian energy transition that can be filled by UK technology companies. The focus is on three strategic areas: cooling, e-mobility and smart systems. Our current pipeline includes suppliers of an innovative process heating technology, a new cooling technology, a smart battery and grid management system, and a developer of underground compressed air energy storage systems.”

The UK’s competitive energy markets and regulatory regimes have led to a flourishing of innovative companies impacting on the energy transition. We at UKIBC feel that sharing this experience and expertise is a major opportunity for both UK and Indian businesses in this area. With this in mind, we will be launching our Energy Sector Group shortly to create a platform for further B2B and B2G interactions. Please look out for further announcements in this regard, or feel free to get in touch with me at prasenjit.dhar@ukibc.com


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