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BW Businessworld

Getting The Act Together On Clean Tech

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Not many have the answer to India’s catch 22 problem – the need for economic growth as well as environmental conservation to ensure sustainability. One such solution provider - Clyde Bergemann India -- says that turning green is not as big a burden as it is made out to be and with some governmental support even the most polluting industry like thermal power plants can be turned green.

Clyde Bergemann India has on offer is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Clyde Bergemann Power Group (CBPG), which offers clean tech to heavy industry sector like thermal power, cement and steel plants. Established in 2007, Clyde Bergemann India extends the advanced on-load cleaning technologies, air pollution control solutions, exhaust gas control solutions and dry bottom ash handling systems. Its clientele includes L&T MHI, Doosan Power systems, Thermax, ISGEC Group, Ansaldo Caldaie, Enmas Antritz, Valmet, Indian Oil, JK Paper, Century Pulp and Paper, Hindustan Petroleum and Coastal Gujarat Power etc. Growth and environment need to go hand in hand for long-term viability - a fact most industrial houses have acknowledged, but the attempts to switch from existing polluting tech to clean tech is an expensive process. The government offers very little support for this transition and as a result most sectors are struggling with or ignoring the environmental costs of their industrial processes. Dilip Sinha, MD Clyde Bergemann India says effective implementation of laws and incentives could turn things around.

What are the main hurdles in the sector?
To begin with there is a complete lack of incentives. Environmental concerns are generally considered ‘necessary evils’ by the industry players and thus efforts are made to meet the minimum requirements. Just enough to be on the right side of law. There is very little interest or investment to improve the performance unless there is a quick and attractive ROI.

And even if interested and convinced on technological and commercial benefits of a clean tech, acceptance of the same is usually a problem especially in the public sector companies because turning green is not the lowest on the cost side.

Plus there is a resistance to change. If basic statutory requirements are being met, most decision makers want to operate within their comfort zone. Even if there is strong possibility of improving the performance beyond the local statutory requirements and be closer to global standards with technological changes or at a slightly higher cost. It appears they feel more comfortable and safe with the prevailing systems and technologies where they have past experience. Unless there is no pressure or incentive to try out something different which is way better and assures pay back, it is  go convince people to change tech.

Can these be addressed by the upcoming budget? How?
Yes. To begin with a market based pricing for energy products would make power generating companies financially healthier, enabling them to allocate budgets for modernisation of existing technologies as well implement new technologies to improve their operating efficiencies. These solutions may be expensive with respect to initial investments but are definitely cost effective with attractive payback periods.

Then the government can make industries interested and proactive by introducing certain incentives associated with better performance over and above the prevailing requirements. Especially since tightening the statutory norms or reaching global standards in a short span of time is going to be difficult.  The incentives can be followed up with gradual changes in the prevailing norms.

What would be the recommendations for the government in this sector?
Serious efforts and clear directives are needed for R&M and Life extensions programs of >25 years old power plants. Though the talks and actions have been going on since mid eighties, the achievements are far below the actual potential of more efficient and additional power generation from our existing plants.  
And as all India Inc has been repeatedly saying tax reforms are an absolute must along with easing of tax regime and quick implementation of GST.

What are the tough steps the government needs to take to benefit this sector while also ensuring growth?
It needs to being into play effective policies to create balance between environment and industrial development and amend Land acquisition policy providing for direct access to land for promoters and compensation to the owners, on fair terms.