Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Fifth India Innovation Summit '09- Day 2- Session-4

The post-tea session was on the theme of 'New-Think Innovations'. Here the focus was on Energy and Sustainability, calling for a whole new breed of Social Entrepreneurs. The speakers were:
  • Gopichand Katragadda, General Manager, Energy & Infra, GE India Technology Centre
  • Anshu Bharadwaj, Director, CSTEP
  • Paul Basil, CEO, Rural Innovations Network

Gopi listed out the various innovations done in the space of energy, fuel, transmission and distribution, and consumptions. These are:

  • Energy- Use of better materials; Better cooling techniques; and increased combustion temperatures techniques
  • Fuel Flexibility and Renewable- Need to do impact analysis (when say 5% of the wind is used, land is covered with solar panels and prevent sunlight); and Need ability to predict better
  • Transmission and Distribution Losses- India – 30% loss; US – 9%; India should explore options such as Smart Grid to explore this.
  • Consumption- We need a cultural shift.

Anshu's organization is a private, non corporate research organization focusing on emerging technologies. His talk was primarily on the supply side of the energy equation. He depicted that today bulk of energy supply comes from coal and oil. The contribution from Solar, Hydel, Wind, Hydrogen Fuel, and Nuclear Power, needs to go up.

  • The Green Rural Bio Mass contributes to one-third of Energy Source Import.
  • Hydel is a key source now but massive increase will still not meet demand. Further, it might create social issues.
  • Wind though not suitable weather wise but progress is been made whereever possible, in parts of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.
  • Coal is a significant source as of now. It can meet India's demands but we will run out of reserves in 5 decades. Plus there's a concern over Carbon Footprint. It will become expensive and has import dependencies.
  • Oil is another major source of energy supply in India. BioFuel can generate 10% of the India’s future demand. But it has its own related issues. Innovation is needed to research next generation Bio Fuels.
  • Hydrogen Fuels is not a primary source fuel. Hence some other fuel is needed to generate Hydrogen, say Electrolysis. The fuel requirements is high with Electrolysis. Hence in the overall cost/energy perspective this is not a great option.
  • Nuclear Power Sector has a 3% contribution and is a very significant source. After last year’s agreement, this is something that can be leveraged extensively, if we play it right. But huge investment needed. Another challenge is lack of skilled labor.
  • Solar Energy is a phenomenal source of energy for which we will need to use just 1% of our land space and meet all our power requirements. Innovations needed in Photo Voltaic Cost and Efficiency, Cells, etc.
  • Solar Thermal is about producing steam with Solar Thermal Power and use that steam to generate energy.

Overall Nuclear and Solar was felt to be very promising.

Paul Basil opined that business opportunities by selling to the poor is possible and has a distinct market share. But innovations are required to approach this market. An approach to solve their problems at a price point reachable to them is important. This calls for Support, Money, Legal Support, Labs, Government Support, Mentoring and Education.

The biggest challenge is in building an accessible distribution network that goes into villages. NGOs and other organizations are attempting to help with this, but this is an area that needs innovative models depending upon the product being developed. Things that make the rural business model really work in her view are:

  • Ruthless affordability -payment models (example pay back over one cropping season)
  • Unconventional partnerships, eg – new stove developed and sold by British Petroleum + IISc+ NGO - marketing done by village women.
  • Local value creation - wealth created should rotate inside the village.
  • Para-skilling - Aravind Eye Clinic could not provide cataract operations at an affordable cost because of their nursing staff expenses. They trained local women and broke the task to really small manageable tasks and brought the cost down.
  • Focus on the poor - treat them as customers
  • Enabling Access
  • Pay-per-Use models.

A very well addressed issue.

1 comment:

C. Mohan said...

Visitors to this page might be interested in the following talk which I was asked to give by the Univ of California at Santa Cruz faculty as part of their Mapping the Future of India lecture series.

Talk Title: "Can India be an Innovation Superpower"
Talk Announcement: http://bit.ly/9lGNBd
Slides: http://bit.ly/dxuurP
Recording: to come

If you have any comments, please feel free to let me know via preferably a post on my FB page (http://bit.ly/a0lRgi). Feel free to forward the above URLs to others. Thanks!

C. Mohan, http://bit.ly/6kVNwW