Clean Tech

‘UK clean energy firms are actively looking at India’

Preeti Mehra | Updated on January 20, 2018 Published on March 29, 2016

Sir David King, the United Kingdom's Special Representative on Climate Change.



Smart Grid Week earlier this month in Delhi saw the participation of several nations and companies which were seeking to showcase their expertise in clean technology. The six British companies that attended were led by Sir David King, the United Kingdom's Special Representative on Climate Change.

Born in 1939 in Durban, South Africa, King has had an illustrious career, has been adviser to prime ministers and was previously the British government’s Chief Scientific Advisor. Speaking to BusinessLine during his visit, he was bullish about the energy market today and felt that after the industrial revolution clean technology is the next biggest opportunity. Excerpts from the interview:

In what way do you feel UK can help India in embracing smart-grid technology?

The UK and India have a lot to share with each other. Smart grids can help both countries address many of the challenges that we jointly face — delivering energy that is secure, sustainable and affordable. The UK and India already collaborate extensively in this area, including joint research, policy development and through commercial deals. I’m particularly pleased to inaugurate the UK Trade and Investment stand at the India Smart Grid Week and to be here to support our delegation of UK companies.

A substantive number of renewable energy British companies are participating, what is it that they bring to the table?

These companies have established expertise in areas including energy storage, solar demand response, decentralised distributed generation and energy management. I am pleased that the UK and India have already undertaken shared work to understand better how to use smart grids to enable new sources of energy (such as renewable energy) and new forms of demand, while keeping the lights on at minimum cost to consumers, creating jobs and enhancing growth.

It’s great that the UK has been able to bring a strong delegation of British companies to explore opportunities for collaboration.

Do you feel any of the innovative projects that UK has tested under the Low Carbon Network Fund could be put to good use in India?

Absolutely. Under the Low Carbon Network Fund our distribution network operators in the UK have delivered successful demonstration projects and trials over the last five years with applicability outside the UK. For example, the National Grid Electricity Transmission company is testing new monitoring and controls for system frequency. This is particularly useful for managing intermittency due to solar PV or wind.

As you know, India is a price sensitive market. Would British companies be able to ‘Make in India’ and provide low cost smart meter solutions for the country?

The fact we have companies here this week is a testament to their belief that this is the right market for them. They and other companies in the clean energy space are actively looking at opportunities in the India market.

The UK is a strong supporter of PM Modi’s vision to ‘Make in India’. In fact, in 2015 both our Prime Ministers launched “GREAT for Collaboration”, an ambitious and exciting new campaign to showcase India-UK business collaboration and the scale of the UK’s commitment to India. The overall objective is to increase business between the two countries. This strong delegation of UK Smart grid companies are actively looking at opportunities in the Indian market and the India Smart Grid forum provides the perfect platform for companies from both the countries to meet. The first showcase of ‘GREAT for Collaboration’ is the partnership between UK’s BP plc and India’s Reliance Industries Limited in developing and producing energy.

During PM Modi’s visit to the UK last year both our PMs also announced two new initiatives by UK companies to Make in India. Lightsource Renewable Energy Holdings announced a £2 billion investment in India. They will design, install and manage around 3 gigawatts of solar power infrastructure in India over the next five years. This investment will create an expected 300 jobs and £42 million of revenue in the UK and benefit hundreds of families in India.

After previously agreeing to acquire the energy management business of Indian company GTL to provide efficient, clean and economical energy to 27,400 telecoms towers in India, with a total contract value of £1.2 billion, UK technology company Intelligent Energy is now facilitating an initial order of over 10,000 hydrogen fuel cells, worth over £128 million. The deal will eventually create manufacturing jobs in India.

Smart grid is a term that encompasses a huge area of activity, ranging from Advanced Metering Systems to Demand Response and going on right up to fully IT-enabled provision of services. Where do your companies best fit in?

Our companies cover a wide range of activity. The UK is a leader among European countries in deploying a wide range of viable smart grid solutions. Notable among those include advanced distribution hardware, advanced distribution software, network-wide communication infrastructure, cyber security and transmission automation monitoring and control. With two million smart meters already installed in the UK, UK companies possess world leading expertise in this area. UK Smart Grid/Meter Trade Body BEAMA Ltd represents the full breadth of the supply chain. From Transmission and Distribution Equipment down to electrical infrastructure in buildings.

So from the perspective of smart grids UK focus on a range of technology solutions including network automation, monitoring, storage and active network management and meshing of networks. BEAMA is also the lead trade association in the smart metering sector and has worked with industry and government to develop the Great Britain smart metering specification. UK supply chain companies also cover associated connected and wireless devices for buildings and energy storage.

India has seen a few pilot projects, such as the one in Puducherry. What has been the British involvement in these?

Yes, one of our UK firms was involved during the pilot project in Puducherry which was widely acknowledged by various stakeholders in this area.

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Published on March 29, 2016
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