Development and deployment of indigenous technologies for clean energy transition in India
India’s clean energy transition goals become consistent for stakeholders.
Industry leaders are clear on their roles and responsibilities. During my recent interactions with Indian energy leaders, I understood that the conventional energy industry is ready to adopt transformative practices to accelerate the energy transition. Even conventional refiners are gearing up to meet clean energy needs through cleaner production. Refiners see the huge opportunities emerging from the process of transitioning to clean energy. In a discussion with industry leaders, one of the largest refiners recently indicated a gradual shift from the conventional product portfolio to the green product basket. The refiner currently produces around 50-60% diesel and gasoline, which means that the refiners’ revenue basket is heavily driven by liquid fuel. The head of the refinery division acknowledged that the current product lineup will soon change. Overreliance on liquid fuels requires a diverse product line. Essentially, the refiner does its best to optimize the production of green hydrogen mined by renewable electricity generation using available resources within the refinery and beyond. Landlocked refineries have created artificial water bodies to meet their refinery water needs. Today, these bodies of water or ponds are used for floating photovoltaic installations for the production of solar electricity. The green electricity produced by the floating terminals is used to meet part of the refineries’ captive needs. In the future, vacant space in refineries could be used to generate more electricity, which could be used for clean hydrogen production.
Indian refineries have identified opportunities for expanding petrochemical business to reduce India’s overreliance on importing specialty chemicals or petrochemical feedstock. Overall, refineries are working to improve the share of petrochemicals in their product mix. They therefore invest in technological development. Despite India’s renewed interest in reducing foreign dependence on technology, domestic giants are still heavily dependent on technology imports. Importing technologies is easier than developing indigenous technologies.
Thus, the development of national technology is handicapped by the short-term objectives of local industries. The government wants faster local technology development, but industries need commercial-scale technologies ready for immediate applications. There is therefore logically an imbalance between the objectives of the government and the activities of the various industries. India’s R&D expenditure is low (0.7% of GDP) compared to China (2.23%), USA (3.06%), Australia (3.12%) , Germany (3.11%) and South Korea (4.64%). Technology development in India remains a matter of direction rather than capability. Technology developers such as R&D institutions, academic institutions and research laboratories are constrained by substantial availability and accessibility of funds. Funders are more concerned with the commercial applicability of concepts, which is real. India’s technology development life cycle is somewhat different from that of developed countries. Many industries face technological myopia; therefore, organizations are concerned about long-term investment in risky technological innovations. Many of them prefer to take the shortest route to achieve their short-term goals by importing technologies rather than developing and owning technologies. Such a state of mind limits them to explore the path less traveled to the “par excellence”. Many of these national giants could compete with world leaders in their field of activity. Unfortunately, they are more concerned with protecting their national territory. Recently, Raghuram Rajan pointed out the flaws in India’s approach to becoming a manufacturing hub. India can probably emerge as a manufacturing hub, but its emergence as a technology hub is a tall order.
For India to become a technology hub, several concerns including local technology development, technology transfer, technology affordability and technology diffusion need to be addressed. The scientists of the Technology Information Forecasting and Assessment Council will set the agenda for the development, preparation and dissemination of India’s indigenous technology. The evaluation of technologies for commercial applications goes far beyond simple patenting. Likely, technology valuation metrics need better realignment across the technology value chain.
In the context of the energy transition, the development and diffusion of technologies will continue to dominate the transition possibilities. In many places, the success of the energy transition will depend on the commercial availability of affordable technologies capable of comprehensively solving energy and social equity problems.
India’s energy transition is a new phenomenon, therefore less studied and less debated. India needs broader debate, deliberation and consensus on its energy transition pathways. Some of the challenges likely to impede India’s energy progress include preparing a skilled workforce to implement clean technology projects, financing clean technologies, and developing the value chain of fuels. clean technologies. Establishment of pan-Indian national green infrastructure including renewable electricity transmission infrastructure, the pipeline for transporting hydrogen or transporting hydrogen-natural gas mixture, hydrogen liquefaction and storage facilities ‘hydrogen. If the energy transition is well planned by companies, they can turn challenges into opportunities. The energy transition offers a plethora of opportunities with immense potential for asset creation, job creation and businesses. The increased demand for capital will create new financing institutions or existing institutions setting up own financing verticals. The government should put in place clean financing mechanisms to address bottlenecks, thereby providing environmentally friendly investment options for retail investors.
The clean energy value chain in India has attracted private investors like Reliance, Adani Group, British Petroleum, Tata, etc. Now, clean energy investors are incentivized through generation-related government programs. However, Raghuram Rajan (former Governor of the Reserve Bank of India) believes that small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are somehow lagging behind the giants. How will SMEs contribute more to Atmanirbhar Bharat, more specifically to Clean and Green Bharat? SMEs should play a complementary role in the production, storage, transport and distribution of clean energy. Bringing SMEs into the competitive clean energy market is a daunting task that requires substantial groundwork. I am sure that the ecosystem will allow SMEs to complement the big players. I am convinced that the coexistence of SMEs and big players is essential for the growth and development of the clean energy value chain in India.