Why I started a podcast?

 

It’s been over a year and half since the launch of my first podcast (Check this if you haven’t listened to it yet). As I look to ‘hit refresh’ and launch it in a new avatar, I ask the crucial question, ‘Why I started it in the first place?’ It boils down to just 3 things.

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My work is fun
To put it in a simple line, I enjoy my work and I like to talk about it outside of the ‘ Mon-Fri/ 9-5’ kinda schedules. The blog was the first step in that regard (A post you might like from my archives). But, you need to evolve with times and content consumption has moved from texts to audio to a large extent and hence I diversified into a new medium. So, my blog today supports every audio podcast episode I release.

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Create an awareness
The clean-tech sector in India has witnessed a rapid growth ever since I began my career nearly 8 years ago. I have been fortunate to be on its learning curve right through this period. Beginning with solar power and moving onto my current role in energy storage and electric vehicles, I have managed to be where the action is. It’s not as popular as a IT, E- Commerce, Embedded systems or  VLSI domains, especially if you are from Bengaluru, so that everyone talks or understands it. But, the impact of the sector is phenomenal. Sample this, nearly every household in the remotest part of India is now electrified, the only way in which the pollution in cities can be controlled is by switching to electric (The Delhi case, from the archives). Be it vehicles or silent and emission free power sources, the only possible solution to climate change mitigation is the clean-tech transition.

Unify the voices

The voices on the podcast include, a state government minister, advisor to the central government, programme head for the world’s largest LED programme, CEOs from the top Indian RE firms and more…

I always look forward to the interactions with other industry colleagues and leverage their knowledge and experience. Over the years I have realised that it is essential to unify the voices and engage all the relevant stakeholders to ensure sustainable development in the sector. As part of the policy advocacy efforts it is essential to be well informed and having a platform that gets the people who matter on board is special.

Overall, it has been a wonderful journey to the only podcast for clean-tech in India so far. But, like all good things it needs to get better and that is exactly what will happen in the next couple of months. Fill the form to give your inputs and sign up to know when the next episode goes live. Thanks to everyone who has been a part of it and look forward to even bigger collaborations!

Doing business amidst India’s Electric Vehicle conundrum

The National Electric Mobility Mission Plan 2020, when first launched in 2012 with a target of having 6-7 million electric/hybrid vehicles in India by 2020 wouldn’t have turned many heads in the sector. Five years down the line in 2017, with a new government at the helm, an announcement of having only Electric Vehicle(EV) sales by 2030 has definitely fueled speculation from all quadrants of the country. How else do we expect the sector to react, considering auto sector contributes to over 7% of GDP (~25% of manufacturing GDP), transport fuel accounts for 5% of the GDP and about 30 million direct and indirect jobs are at stake.

Ever since, the announcement was made, I have managed to keep track of the proceedings at both the central and state level with interactions with relevant stakeholders in the process.

The first discussion I had was with my colleague, Harsh Thacker, looking at the situation in India from a common citizen’s perspective.

A month down the line, Karnataka turned up with the country’s first policy on electric vehicles. It was a comprehensive policy looking at both the electric vehicles and energy storage sector.

I was also able to record the opinion of R V Deshpande, Minister for Industries, Gov. of Karnataka who was instrumental in bringing out the policy on EV and energy storage.

Simultaneously, the report commissioned by the Forum of Regulators to evaluate the impact of electric vehicles on the grid was released. Mahesh Patankar, who was the lead author in the study joined me for a discussion elaborating on the methods behind the study and why he the grid would be safe with an increasing EV penetration. The report worked on the premise, that India would have 6-7 million EVs by 2020, the only official target till date.

Prof. Ashok Jhunjhunwala an adviser to the government of India who was one of the early proponents of the all EV vision shared his reasoning on what he calls Blind Men and an Elephant.

At the same time, the Industry body, SIAM released its white paper advocating an electric vehicle roadmap for the nation, which indirectly hinted that an all-electric vehicle fleet was not possible by 2030 and India could target the same by 2047, India’s 100th year of Independence.

Talking of industries, I happened to be part of a stakeholder consultation hosted by NITI Aayog who claims to have been given a mandate to formulate India’s electric vehicle programme. Awadesh Kumar Jha from Fortum India who has been evaluating the market for setting charging infrastructure was also part of the consultation. He joined me to discuss the outcomes of the stakeholder consultation.

Finally on a positive note, amidst the uncertainty on the policy front, the government sanctioned subsidy under the FAME programme to roll out electric buses. Funds for procurement of 390 buses were released with a deadline to place orders by end of March 2018. The state transport utilities proactively went ahead with bids and 3 companies won contracts for supply. I was glad to chat with Nikhil Dhamkar from Sun Mobility, who along with their JV partner Ashok Leyland will supply electric buses in Ahmedabad.

With the elections just a year away, we could expect some announcements in the EV space in the next few months, however, if we miss that, we could probably lose a year of action.

Image cty: Tesla

What the union budget (2018-19) means for Renewable Energy?

As yet another annual budget is presented, its time for a review just like in the previous years (Read more). This time, reviewing the budget from the Indian clean-tech sector’s perspective including a discussion with an expert from top global tax and advisory firm.

Listen to the complete budget discussion on the Emerging Tech Podcast (below).

Key Highlights

  • Renewable Energy budget outlay increased for wind 400 to 750Cr for 4GW target RE capacity expected to contribute to 17% of power generation in 2018-19
    • Decreased outlay for solar 2661Cr to 2045 (10GW grid and 1GW rooftop target)
    • Green Energy Corridor outlay increased from 500 to 600Cr
    • Off grid solar budget increased from 700 to 849Cr
    • DDUGJY outlay decreased from 4814 to 3800Cr although Saubhagya has a separate allocation of 3700Cr
    • Integrated Power Development Scheme has an outlay reduction from 5821Cr to 4935Cr
    • FAME has been allotted 260Cr (Subsidy for 1000 cars and charging infra)
  • Smart Cities : Budget Increased from 9000Cr to 12169Cr
  • Promotion of Manufacturing (though MSIPS and other schemes) increased from 745Cr to 864Cr
  • Budget outlay increased for MNRE from 9466 to 10317Cr with MOP declining from 64318 to 53469Cr with major reduction for NTPC
  • Electrification of railways: 4000kms targeted for commission in FY 18-19
  • Customs duty reduction from 5% to 0% for solar glass
  • Customs duty increase for Complete Knock Down (CKD) of automobile parts from 10% to 15%
  • Customs duty on Lithium ion batteries for mobiles increased from 10 to 20%.
  • Social welfare surcharge of 10% instead of existing 3% on imports.