As the Scottish government’s senior representative in India, Mark Dolan, Country Manager Scottish Development International, will now focus on developing beneficial partnerships in renewable energy technology. R Gupta speaks to him on what this means for the renewable sector in India
Intro: With 15 years experience in international business development for the UK and now specifically Scotland, operating in North America, Europe and Asia, Mark Dolan’s experience is wide and varied. He is marked as an effective player in the international market entry strategy and business development. His new role will see him supporting the increasing number of Indian companies choosing Scotland as their preferred European business partner.
What are SDI’s views on India’s renewable energy sector?
We see a great opportunity for partnership and investment between Scotland, a leader in renewable energy expertise, and India, one of the world’s top five countries in terms of renewable energy capacity. India’s government and industry clearly understand how important renewable energy is to India’s growth story. The fact that India’s Ministry of New and Renewable Energy has now put in place a target of 72,400 MW of renewable energy capacity by 2022, which would account for around 15 per cent of India’s total projected 2022 energy consumption, shows how serious renewable energy is being taken in India. The industry has responded by making major investments, with around 17 GW already installed and much more being planned. The introduction of renewable energy certificates and the government’s push in the solar energy space will also add to this momentum towards increased power generation from renewables.
As for the Scottish government, it has set ambitious targets for renewables-based power generation. With 25 per cent of Europe’s wind resource, 25 per cent of Europe’s tidal resource and 10 per cent of Europe’s wave resource, Scotland plans to develop this potential to meet its target of generating the equivalent of 100 per cent of Scotland’s own electricity demand from renewable resources by 2020. We see real opportunities for India to develop offshore wind and this is where Scotland, with over 40 years experience in oil and gas and with over 9 GW of offshore wind being developed in Scottish waters to 2020, may be able to bring valuable experience and knowledge working in partnership with India to develop this industry. There may also be areas of renewables, such as biomass and biofuels, where Scotland could have much to learn from India’s experience.
What is SDI doing to promote renewable energy/non-conventional energy in India? Is it focussing on one type of renewable energy, or does it want to promote all types of renewable energy in India?
Our main priority right now is to develop a partnership with India across a number of key areas in renewable energy, including offshore wind, smart grid technologies, biomass, biofuels and energy efficiency, both from an inward investment and trade development perspective. This could involve opportunities to work with Indian energy and heavy industry firms all along with companies in the renewable energy supply chain. The Scottish government has set the most ambitious renewable energy generation targets in Europe, generating the equivalent of 100 per cent of Scotland’s own electricity demand from renewable resources by 2020 and SDI is committed to working closely with Indian businesses investing in Scottish renewables.
We are also supporting Scottish renewable energy firms who are building partnerships and opening offices in India, such as Sgurr Energy, a renewables consultancy that has had an office in Pune since 2008 and has worked with Orb Energy, Ecolutions Green Energy and Commercial Bank of Ceylon, on a variety of consultancy projects. While offshore wind is our major focus right now, Scotland is also very strong in marine power, solar power and biofuels, and we are always looking for partnership possibilities in those fields as well.
What about the renewable energy MoU signed between the Indian and Scottish governments? What does it entail, in terms of technical and financial assistance to Indian companies?
Both Scotland and India are committed to increasing the use of wind energy, solar power and biofuels, as well as driving forward innovation in the renewable energy space. Renewable energy is a global concern, so it makes sense for us to cooperate and share expertise with other countries.
With that in mind, the Scottish government signed an MOU with India’s Ministry of New and Renewable Energy in 2009, during a visit to India by Michael Russell, the then Scottish Government Minister for External Affairs. We have established a working group to explore potential areas of cooperation in renewable energy, including the development of environmentally friendly buildings and smart grids. We have also established a scholar exchange programme between the Indian Institutes of Technology and the University of Strathclyde that commenced in October 2010. Academics from both institutions have been working together closely on a range of projects related to the field of renewable energy. This work is at its early stages, but it is already yielding promising results, and we are very optimistic about the future worth of such Scottish-Indian academic collaboration. Scotland and India already have very strong links in the education sector, so it made sense to build on that in the field of renewable energy research.
How many renewable energy projects have been financed by SDI till now in India? Also, how can the private sector contribute to the growth of renewable energy? Is SDI planning to work with the private sector to promote renewable energy in India?
We should make it clear that SDI’s role is not as a direct investor in renewable energy projects in India, but as a facilitator of investment and partnership opportunities between Scotland and India. There are many excellent opportunities for mutually beneficial partnership, whether that be through direct company-to-company partnership, industry-academic partnership or university research collaborations, but it is not always easy for the companies to go out and find these opportunities themselves, particularly as many renewable energy firms are essentially small to medium-sized companies built around a particular technology or sub-sectoral skill set. Scottish renewable energy firms have a lot to offer India and a lot to gain from expending into the Indian market, but they don’t necessarily have the resources to spend on searching for potential partners. This is where we can help; SDI has two offices in India and our dedicated in-country teams are engaged in constant, ongoing conversation with India’s key renewable energy players. This means we understand their needs and how the Indian renewables market is developing. From there, we can figure out how Scotland might be able to help, and make the appropriate introductions. In other words, we bring companies and organisations together to enable them to do business with each other.
How would the partnership between Indian and Scottish governments help the two in leveraging Scotland’s strengths in the areas of renewable energy?
We believe that government-to-government partnerships play a very important role in encouraging academic and industry cooperation and collaboration in renewable energy. We are trying to tackle a global problem in climate change and sustainable growth, so it is in everyone’s interests that renewable energy know-how and capability is shared as widely as possible. Partnership at the government level sends a strong signal to industry and investors that our mutual commitment to renewable energy is significant and durable. From a practical perspective, it adds another layer of peer-to-peer networking among officials who are highly-involved in renewable energy, increasing the chances that opportunities for business, academic and government-level partnerships will be recognised and realised.
Scotland is a world leader in renewable energy, with over 25 per cent of Europe’s wind energy and tidal energy resources and the world’s most ambitious renewable energy targets. The Scottish government has put strong plans in place to guide the development of our renewable energy industry, mobilising the energy industry, the engineering industry, the offshore infrastructure sector and academia towards a common goal. This has given rise to an explosion in innovation and expertise within the Scottish renewable energy community. India can partner with Scotland to share in the benefits of that innovation and expertise, while Scotland will undoubtedly benefit from the perspectives and experience of Indian renewables experts.
Do you have similar partnerships in other developing countries? If yes, how have those countries benefited from such a partnership?
The government-to-government partnership with India is a first for Scotland and is unique in its focus on renewable energy. On business front, Scotland has a very successful track record in building links in developing countries from Malawi to Mexico and further afield.
We in Scotland are keenly aware of how important Asia’s growing economies will be in the 21st century, and we are going to great lengths to reach out to industry and governments in Asia to show how Scottish expertise in renewables can help them make that growth cleaner and greener. We are also working to educate and assist Scottish companies vis-a-vis the huge potential for mutually beneficial partnerships in Asia. Fast-growing economies need knowledge and expertise transfer to mature, and we have developed years and years of expertise and knowledge in Scotland across a number of business sectors, with renewable energy being a particular strength.
So far in Asia, we have been successful in building links with firms and government officials in China, and several Scottish firms have set up operations and partnerships there. This includes Sgurr Energy, who have an office in Beijing, and Clyde Blowers subsidiary David Brown Gear Systems, which set up a joint venture with Jiangsu Shinri David Brown Gear Systems to manufacture systems for wind turbines in January 2010.
What SDI is all about ?
SDI is a government organisation which helps overseas businesses tap into Scotland’s resources and helps Scottish companies do business internationally. Recently, SDI doubled its presence in India to help organisations take advantage of growing opportunities between the two countries. Its core role in the country is to help organisations access Scotland’s key strengths in knowledge, high level skills, technology and innovation, to support the development of the country’s key growth industries. SDI also identifies opportunities for Scottish companies to expand their global operations through directly investing in India and establishing collaborative partnerships.