To many Fortune 500 companies announcing aggressive goals relating to their clean energy usage, transitioning their energy usage into renewable energy sources plays an integral part in their sustainability goals. Offsetting energy costs through increased use of renewables is not only cost-effective, but such practices allow for CSR success, which has a profound impact on consumers.
While the rapid expansion into renewables as a means of CSR can be easily explained by the positive tangible benefits it brings to local communities (like clean air and water), it also doesn’t hurt that often times wind and solar energy represents a cost savings to the business by avoiding more expensive utility-fed power.
Over 20 companies and startups from Switzerland are set to visit Bengaluru, Pune and Mumbai this month as part of Cleantech Week India 2018. The event facilitated by swissnex India, will encourage knowledge sharing between India and Swiss experts, clean energy enterprises and academics to help identify gaps in the Indian clean energy sector and to create a sustainable model of growth for the future. It is an opportunity for swiss clean energy players to explore India from a new perspective for manufacturing, sourcing, and technical collaborations, and also to rethink ways they could engage with the dynamic market which is set out to achieve 175 GW renewable energy generation capacity target by 2022.
We met Gaganjot Kaur, who leads the Clean Energy Initiatives, and is the Manager of University Partnerships at swissnex India. She has also curated Cleantech Week. At swissnex, Kaur facilitates technology and knowledge exchange partnerships between Swiss and Indian clean energy players and also enables mutually-beneficial partnerships between Indian and Swiss academia, start-ups, industry experts and innovative companies.
Excerpts from an interview:
Tell us about your journey so far, especially in clean energy.
swissnex’s foray into enabling clean technology collaborations between Switzerland and India is a fairly recent initiative. We have ventured into this segment because it is the need of the hour. Switzerland is one of the leading innovators in this segment, and India is a thriving market.
The opportunity to head swissnex India’s cleantech initiatives enabled me to work on bringing the stakeholders from two countries together for innovation exchange and technology collaborations, and also gave me the opportunity to learn about the importance of sustainable energy sources.
Switzerland is a world leader in clean technology. What learnings could Indian companies, public enterprises and the government take from the Swiss?
Switzerland is ONE of the leading innovators in this segment. What is unique about Switzerland is the academia-industry connect which has led to the creation of cutting-edge technologies. Switzerland is well on its way to conceptualising future technologies, as is clearly evident from their Energy strategy 2050. Keeping in mind the economic, political and technological developments at home and abroad that could have repercussions on the energy markets, the strategy helps Switzerland prepare for the future. Energy security is the key to innovation in this segment in Switzerland, which could be a source of inspiration for India.
India too has set very high targets in the adoption of renewable energy sources. Hence, the potential for collaboration between the two countries is tremendous.
To quote, Doris Leuthard, President of Switzerland: “With its aim to be one of the frontrunners in shaping a greener future, India has become an important partner for Switzerland in the field of energy and climate policy.”
Name the key clean energy players in India.
The government of India would be the key player to drive this segment in association with think tanks, industry players, academia and entrepreneurs to achieve its high targets.
What were the outcomes of Solartech Industry Connect held in January 2018?
Solartech Industry Connect was an opportunity for us to learn the intricacies, challenges and opportunities of the renewable energy domain. It helped us in formulating a long term engagement plan to support Swiss startups and academicians to explore partnerships in India.
You’ve curated Cleantech Week. How did this plan come to fruition?
The first step was to identify emerging areas within the energy segment, such as energy efficiency, storage, mobility, etc, where Switzerland could add value to the innovation already underway in India. The next step was to identify institutions and individuals who are the front runners of the Indian ecosystem. And finally, it was a matter of matching the Swiss and Indian experts and institutions to one another to create the best possible outcomes. We are hoping to achieve excellent synergies through Cleantech Week India 2018.
What are your expectations from Cleantech Week?
Cleantech Week India 2018 was curated to provide a roadmap to Swiss researchers, startups and companies for setting up their long term strategy in India, and showing them how to engage with the market and with government, industry and other key stakeholders.
Which sessions are you most looking forward to?
I am looking forward to the sessions by the Swiss experts at Intersolar India 2018:
WHERE & WHEN
Bangalore, December 10th, 2018 – 4.00 pm to 6.00 pm
or visit the Swiss Pavilion at Intersolar conference on December 11th & 12th, 2018
Pune, December 13th, 2018 – 11.00 am to 2.00 pm
Mumbai, December 14th, 2018 – 9.00 am to 1.00 pm
Thank you for reading the interview. Please drop a line and help us do better.
The CSR Journal Team