With innumerable reports of large amounts of agricultural food produce rotting, and vaccines becoming useless due to transportation time India’s need for cold chain technology is set to sky rocket.

However, among the greatest of challenges for cold chain development would be the pollution caused.

A British technology company believes it has a solution using a low-cost piston engine currently being trialled in the UK to create zero emission power and cooling.

The Dearman Engine Company, founded in 2011, has identified India as one of its main target markets.

CEO Toby Peters spoke to BusinessLine about the company’s plans. Excerpts:

You believe that cold, as a form of energy, is underestimated. Could you explain why?

When people talk about energy, they think by default that they are talking about electricity, but in fact they are talking about thermal energy – hot or cold.

We talk of smart cities and their electrical demand but about half of that electricity is used to produce cold – for data centres, comfort, medicines and others.

We have to understand that often, the end requirement isn’t electricity; it is cold.

What is the potential for a cold chain in India?

There is a huge growth in the middle classes in India and Asia, and their lifestyles are going to be built on cold.

Also, to be able to deliver maximum economic gain for the farming community they need to be able to sell a premium product, for which they need a cold chain.

What are the risks involved?

My concern is that if we deliver the required demand using diesel-based technology, we will have a societal impact, but the environmental impact will be ruinous.

How do you develop a cold chain properly?

Clean cold energy needs to be brought into the system-level thinking. In India, you can start from a relatively blank sheet of paper; here in the UK, we have a diesel-based chain so it would have to transition out of that. India can either develop a cold chain in an unstructured way based on diesel, or in a systematic, clean way.

What is Dearman doing in India?

India is increasing its refrigerated transport by 25 per cent annually, so it’s a huge market.

We are talking to logistics companies, particularly those looking at what a cold chain should look like and how you move products from the farm to the city.

Our business model is based on assembly of the technology, and most of the manufacture, happening in the local market, though certain high value elements may need to come from the UK.