Thursday and Friday were interesting days for the energy sector at WEF - leaders across governments and organizations took to discussing the need for change if we are to give our children a habitable, lush planet, as well as the progress of the energy sector.
While there were many sessions that addressed the global energy scene, the Brazilian Nightcap, held on Thursday evening, took a closer look at the Brazilian economy and its environment for businesses, especially in the energy sector. Global leaders engaged in innovation, green technology and the Olympic Games came together to share their experience and inspire other executives and investors interested in the Brazilian market. It gave us the chance to learn more about the Brazilian ecosystem as senior businesspersons and government representatives shared their thoughts on the challenges, impacts and opportunities available in the country.
As shared by leaders within the nation, Brazil is in a difficult position, but one that is also very opportune. Ministries and bodies, economic, political and business, have been coming together to analyze the political and economic scenario, and the challenges and opportunities within. The aim - to create the right environment for businesses to enter the Brazilian economy and establish practices that are viable for the short and long terms. One of the tools at their disposal is an improvement of the digital and physical infrastructure of the country, allowing businesses a strong base on which to enter and grow.
Suzlon and I, personally, share a long standing relationship with Brazil and its government and people. We set up Suzlon Energia Eolica Do Brasil Ltda (SEOB) in 2006 and it was one of the first international RE companies in the country. Incredible support from the government and willingness to collaborate from the people led to the installation of 353 WTGs and a total installed capacity of 741.30MW; and so, I was quite excited to participate in the Brazilian nightcap session. Today, Brazil is gearing up to further strengthen this relationship amongst forging many more. The goal of these new partnerships is not only mutual benefit, but benefit of the planet as we strive, together for a greener future. Brazil has invested $7.7 billion in renewable energy in 2015, and the plan is to increase this investment by $12 billion every year until 2040.
Suzlon's footprint in Brazil had reduced over the past couple of years due to political upheaval. But, this changed last year, and now, we plan to further our footprint in the country. With assets of over $2 billion and a relationship that spans more than ten years, Suzlon and Brazil go back a long way. Our focus on technology and innovation has helped us develop utility scale projects and a lower CoE in India; we will now transfer this to the Brazilian market to further strengthen our relationship. The abundance of natural resources in Brazil can only aid the growth of wind, solar and hydro power and the achievement of energy efficiency and grid parity. We have always been warmly received in Brazil and I am certain that our relationship will only grow stronger as we jointly work towards boosting the Brazilian economy and fulfilling commitments made at COP21.
The observations of the participants brought out a single conclusion – Brazil poses numerous challenges for businesses entering the economy; but the copious opportunities can outshine these obstacles. Hence, whatever the challenges may be, the expected returns point towards a positive net outcome.
Friday, and the session on the Future of Energy, gave me a chance to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. Where is energy as an industry really going? What are the disruptors that will affect its path? What can we expect in a few years? What role with renewable energy play in the global energy mix? And what will both, boost and hinder the progress of the renewable sector? These were some of the questions that were touched upon at the session.
The base on which most of the discussion took place was that COP21 is the largest disruptor for the energy sector. Post the commitment made by numerous countries, drastic initiatives will have to be taken to move towards a carbon neutral world. Some of the observations I shared on the matter included predictions that the renewable energy sector will grow by massive proportions, as will energy and resource efficiency. Political scenarios will drive national movements, but every country will move towards renewables. This will also require a change in the mind set of stakeholders as they look at renewables as an energy source as well as a means to achieve a greener future. Another disruptor that, on the other hand, can result in a slower growth is the reducing price of oil and the weakening global economy.
Yet, renewable energy was recognized as a major part of the future of energy; and I got the chance to depict how technological advancement and innovative business models can make such a future a reality by making non-fossil fuel sources more efficient, effective and attractive. Not only will this increase attractiveness and investment in the sector, it will also turn the sector away from the tag of 'alternative' and make it a mainstream option.
Suzlon has already shown that innovation and R&D can make the previously impossible, viable. Our S111 and S97 WTGs made it possible to generate high yield from low wind sites and achieved a never-before PLF of 35%. R&D, innovation and technology will lead the future of energy – this is a strong belief of mine that, through practical application, has repeatedly given us reason to believe in its validity. As my peers agreed, renewables will shape the future of energy. All we need is the willingness to innovative, invest in R&D and technology, and focus not only on the need for energy, but on the larger picture of a greener planet.