As global conglomerate General Electric (GE) goes about fixing its various businesses across the world in a bid to get back on its feet, one area it’s been focussing on is renewable energy. GE’s strategy around green energy has been playing out well in India, as the company chalks out its plans at a time the country itself is in the midst of a major clean energy push as part of its commitment to the Paris Agreement. In this year’s Green Issue, we take a close look at how GE India is rolling out its green energy strategy in the country.
What deputy editor Ashish Gupta pieces together after speaking to GE India brass is the global giant’s plan to grow in this business by way of a mix of innovation and a new business model. At the heart of this is hybrid technology, where green energy is made available 24x7 to the grid by way of various combinations—wind and solar, wind and hydro, and hydro and solar. It is this innovation which GE India believes will be the ideal solution as India powers its way to its renewable energy target of 175 GW by 2022. As Vishal Wanchoo, president and CEO of GE South Asia, tells Gupta, the future of renewables will not just be about extracting the maximum from wind, solar or hydro, but also about effectively using GE’s hybrid technology.
GE feels hybrid is a good option for India since many parts of the country have both wind and solar energy in good measure, and these two sources could be made to effectively complement each other. Besides, the hybrid technology is also cost-effective since both solar and wind units can then reside in the same location, rather than at different points, given that the availability of land is a key concern in India. But there are enough challenges in the wind energy space too which industry players speak of.
First, there aren’t too many sites left with high wind speeds, with the best ones already taken. There’s also the problem of wind speeds picking up during monsoon, when the demand for power is low. Since wind speeds vary, predicting actual output is not as easy as for solar. But GE India’s renewables game plan also extends to greater innovation, like designing bigger blades which generate higher wind energy, and making improvements to the turbines. This apart, GE India has now changed the business model itself, moving away from merely selling wind turbines to delivering wind farm projects, where the turbines have to be delivered and assembled at the site and transmission ensured to the grid. It’s not surprising why GE is so bullish on its wind energy bet in India. The company believes India will soon become one of the top three renewable energy markets in the world, and may even overtake the U.S. That’s as good a reason to roll out the turbines as any.
Far from wind energy, this issue also has another interesting story I’d urge you to read. Debojyoti Ghosh and Abhik Sen capture the growing trend of ‘athleisure’ in India, where the old culture of formal dressing is fast making way for much more casual wear even at work, with gym and workout wear becoming a part of mainstream fashion. Not surprisingly, some of the country’s top movie stars who are known for their fitness are also jumping into this work-to-play clothing segment with their own labels. Welcome to a (hopefully) fitter India.
This was originally published in the July, 2019 issue of the magazine.