Climate Solver launched in India – the potential hotbed for climate innovation

Four new Indian Climate Solvers join the existing list of inspiring climate innovations:

Gram Power India - Smart Microgrid

Enfragy Solutions India - Bio-pellet based fuel efficient cookstove 

Green India Building Systems & Solutions (GIBSS) - Geothermal Building Cooling System

Toro Cooling Systems - Air to Air Heat Exchanger

WWF's Stefan Henningsson was at the launch and shares his experience with us here:

Holi, the Festival of Colors is now taking place in India, which seems like a reflection of the bright colors of climate and energy entrepreneurship I have seen on display during a fascinating week in India.

I have seen the poorest communities in Sunderbans that now have an association of solar empowered women creating new local business models. They are selling solar charged batteries to the local market, and in that way generating a steady income to an otherwise very poor village. You can now access printing and copying services at the local market as there is a steady stream of charged batteries available for local merchants to run laptops and printers.     

I have also participated in the first Climate Solver award ceremony in New Delhi. Four colorful entrepreneurs were chosen by the jury as examples of the growing number of SME solution providers with disruptive, resource efficient solutions and new business models. These examples bring into question the old thinking and common practice of wasting huge amounts of energy derived from fossil resources. The awards were part of a Business Response to Climate Change seminar co-organized by WWF, Confederation of Indian Industries, Carbon Disclosure Project and British High Commission.    

Suresh Prabhu, Chairman, Council for Energy, Environment & Water, honored the event with his presence and pointed out the importance of thinking in new ways in order to solve urgent environmental problems. Climate Solver is an example of this new way of thinking. He also pointed out the importance of water innovations and water efficiency as integral part of any solution for the future, especially in a country like India. 

The myriad of climate innovations coming from SMEs needs to be mainstreamed by corporates with the help of enabling policies and investments. As Ravi Singh, Secretary General & CEO for WWF India put it: “Innovation is typically a new way of doing something while increasing the value for a customer. WWF believes that this customer value must include radically reduced carbon emissions, energy access and compatibility with a transition to a renewable energy future.” A scenario of such a future is described in WWF’s Energy Report for 100% Renewable Energy globally by 2050. Achieving this is a quest for the corporate, investor and policy community where the disruptive solutions stemming from smaller game-changers will be key in creating this added value. 

I presented WWF’s view on the necessity of transitioning towards a 100% renewable energy future. I also presented India’s profile in Global Cleantech Innovation Index where India placed 6th out of the G20 countries, and was shown to have  the potential to become a true hotspot for cleantech innovation in the future. According to the index India’s booming economy, huge domestic market, good renewable resources and good ability to quickly scale up cleantech are all very promising though at the moment there are clear weaknesses at earlier stages of cleantech development.

Ashish Khanna, India Energy Team Leader at the World Bank, concluded his session with “India could become the hotbed for cleantech innovation”. The very latest market data on clean energy investments in India that came out after the event is of concern however. Clean energy investments in India fell 53% between 2011 and 2012 and are now at 6.3 billion dollars according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. If the Government incentive schemes are not reinforced and improved cleantech innovation potential of India is at risk.      

It was natural in our Climate Solver award launch in India to include and emphasis on energy access solutions. Over 400 million people in India, which is nearly half of those living in India’s rural areas, still have no access to electricity which is a key for sustainable development.

- Stefan Henningsson, Senior Adviser Climate Innovation, WWF

A Glimpse of the Rural Electrification Program in Kenya

Electricity is the backbone of socio-economic development of any country and is associated with provision of numerous services to people which directly enhances their quality of life. However, in today's world this situation becomes bit complex as not only continuous supply of electricity is important but it is equally essential to generate it in a green fashion. Kenya has, keeping these needs in mind, established Rural Electrification Authority (REA) under section 66 of Energy Act 2006 (No. 12 of 2006) with a vision to provide clean and green electricity to all rural areas in the country.

The total installed electricity generation capacity of Kenya at the moment is 1243 Mega Watts (MW) out of which 761 MW (65%) is generated through hydro power plants. Thermal electricity generation sources contribute 419.6 MW (30%), geothermal makes 163 MW (12%) and sugar factories contributes 26MW (1.9%) respectively. Since, Kenya is located across the equator; therefore, it has huge potential for utilizing solar energy as a source of electricity generation. Two main methods that are adopted in rural electrification program in Kenya are grid extensions (for integrated areas) and stand alone diesel operated / solar photovoltaic systems for areas located far from national grids. The master plan for the project was completed in 2009 in which 20,000 public installations were identified which were in need of electrification. Till now, 12,000 installations have been supplied with electricity. The details of the project are here.

The identified potential of various renewable energy resources are geothermal 7000 MW whereas the current installed capacity is only 163 MW. Similarly, over 80% of the total land area in Kenya can be utilized for electricity generation through photovoltaic solar panels. Almost 200,000 households in Kenya are currently seeking benefits from 12 – 20 watts of PV solar panels. The figure is increasing with an addition of 20,000 households per annum. By the end of june 2009, almost 189 institutions were supplied with electricity through 12 – 20 watts solar panels. Wind potential is estimated to be 346 Watts per meter square, small hydro potential is 3,000 MW and biomass collectively from different sources is 600 MW respectively.

The Government of Kenya is the basic supporter of this initiative. REA is currently focusing on developing framework for the promotion of photovoltaic solar panels among rural households and private sector and is open to have collaboration in this regard with foreign investors. This project is a practical example for the promotion of renewable energy sources at grass root level and the changes that it can bring into the lives of masses. However, the project still primarily relies on fund from government and foreign investors. There is a dire need to increase the market value of this project so that it would be able to generate revenue to sustain and grow further in years to come.

By guest blogger Ayoub Hameedi