Of late, it has become importunate to pay attention to clean technology that reduces negative environmental impacts. The need to make energy efficiency improvements through the sustainable use of resources to protect the environment has started figure in the priorities of businesses across the world. When it comes to the Cleantech industry, Switzerland is considered as one of the torch bearers of the initiative. In an exclusive interview with DataQuest, Philippe Mueller, Head of Cleantech initiatives at the Swiss Federal Office of Energy, talks about the importance of Clean technology and the steps needed to be taken by industries and government to embrace the same.
Q.Why is Switzerland considered the leader in innovation in the cleantech industry?
I see two main reasons for that; early and far reaching legislation in the field of water and air protection forced the academic and the entrepreneurial tissue in Switzerland to come up with new technical solutions to comply with the law, second, high investment in the federal research facilities with the result of a high number of patents and innovations. The combined result leads to constantly high rankings in all international innovation rankings.
The challenge for Switzerland with its very small domestic market lies in the scale up of market shares to be able to reach return on invest. Therefore markets with high potential for cutting edge Cleantech technologies like India and its industry would surely be interesting partners for Swiss companies where win-win business models and synergies could easily be developed.
Q.What role does the government play in promoting the cleantech industry?
The most important thing is that the government itself should not be too inventive, but ensure a very stable regulatory framework and a readable long term strategy. That gives the entrepreneurs security for their investment in new technologies. It is also important that, instead of a too detailed regulation, ways are found how the right incentives can be given without blocking the way of new development.
Furthermore, the Cleantech market is kind of special as it helps to save resources, which is in the interest of the general public, but does not necessarily guarantee big or fast earnings for the companies. In Switzerland we have promotion programs, which help companies to develop new Cleantech solutions by supporting them (financially or consultative) and give them thus an incentive to invest in in this business area.
Q. Going forward, what is the scope of renewable sources of energy?
First of all the price curve has to come down some more, especially for solutions including storage of intermittent renewable energies. The technologies for that are available, for example in the PV industry with the hetero-junction. Once the production capacity in place has reached the age of replacement, new technologies will be implemented and cost will go down.
Another important step will be the intelligent and – with the help of the upcoming digitalization – interactive integration of all energy sources and consumers in an intelligent grid. New business-models, e.g. peer-to-peer blockchain technologies, new tariffing models and so on, will be introduced.
Q. What is the importance of cleantech industry in India?
Miss Gaganjot Kaur, Project Manager- Cleantech initiatives at Swissnex India, chose to answer this question and said that “India has ambitious plans for its renewable energy sector. It aim was to increase its renewable energy capacity to 175 GW by 2022, and had set a year-to-year target to achieve this goal. However, the Government of India has increased its target to 225 GW by 2022, much ahead of its initial target of 175 GW. In 2017-18, India added 11,788 MW of renewable energy capacity and in April-July 2018, the numbers rose to 1,832.26 MW (grid interactive and off-grid). Overall, up to 8.5 GW of renewable energy capacity is expected to be added in 2018-19, and will result in India overachieving its Paris Agreement goals. By 2030, India plans to generate 40% of its total energy requirement through renewable energy sources.
Needless to say, India’s renewable energy domain has become an attractive destination for overseas investors. India has already received an FDI inflow of 6.84 USD, and is ranked fourth in EY Renewable Energy Country Attractive Index 2018. India’s energy market is primed for both domestic and international ventures looking to offer products and services in India”.