Intro: Are you curious to know what steps India needs to take to increase job opportunities in the energy, climate change, and infrastructure sectors? How can the Internet of Things and AI be leveraged to enhance connectivity and communication between clean energy and infrastructure systems to reduce the impact of climate change? And what will it take for India to have a higher number of women leaders on a global scale? If these questions interest you, then you should definitely read the insightful interview given by Hetal Gandhi, Director - Research, CRISIL Market Intelligence and Analytics. In this exclusive interaction at Socio-economic Voices at Indiastat, Ms Gandhi shares her valuable insights with Senior Journalist Mahima Sharma, while talking in-depth about India's progress towards sustainable development and the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.
MS: What steps India must take to increase job opportunities in the four major sectors of the economy - energy, climate change and infrastructure?
HG: With infra spending expected to increase 1.7-1.8x between fiscal 23-27 vs fiscal 18-22, it is amply clear that India will achieve at least 75% of NIP targets by fiscal 25. Railways may overachieve set targets and roads may not be lagging far behind. Sectors where dependence on states is higher like urban infra and irrigation may remain monitorable. The energy transition is set to result in at least 160+GW of capacity to be added over the next 7 years with it accounting for over 50% of the capacity by 2030. Requirements on grid connectivity, smart metering and renewable energy balancing are set to create multiple job opportunities across the energy value chain. The right implementation of these reforms is crucial to gain traction in the job market. Further, the implementation of the ESG agenda across corporate India would need new skill sets hence setting up jobs over there will be equally important.
MS: With each passing year nature's fury owing to climate change is rising. Water and energy crises will be the main bone of contention in the next five years. Is India ready to face this risk? If not, what all things need to be done on a war footing to ensure the masses' basic water and energy needs?
HG: Climate change has been impacting us for a while but the intensity is just set to go up. Recent earthquakes, glacier melting, and cracks in the Himalayas show the biodiversity impact of these parameters on day-to-day life. Preparedness for climate change can never be enough for developing or developed economies. But, given the share of poor higher in our economies their ability to prevent themselves from climate change remains worrisome. The impact of climate change is expected on revenues, costs, exports and investments. Let's take a few instances. Developed economies are now levying carbon leakage taxes on import partners. This is going to accentuate the need for climate change to be comparable to global trade partners. Today of total investments nearly 8-9% are green. This number is set to rise to 15% over the next 5-7 years. Clearly, a war footing approach enables transition and in turn, creates jobs.
MS: What does being a developed country entail for India, where does India stand now, and what are the challenges on the road that it faces here onward?
HG: A developed India means fast-tracking of world-class infrastructure, high consumption momentum, and the world coming to India given the scale it can offer for consumption. While in infra on many counts in volumes, we may be rising fast, the quality of infrastructure lags behind significantly. Further, we also see that a developed economy means faster energy needs. For the last two years power demand in India has been rising by over 10%. We believe this will be driven further up, as we move ahead. Similarly, consumption of cars and air conditioners is still low at a nascent stage. Growth in these segments will drive FDI inflows and more players into a large consumption market like India.
MS: The development of infrastructure is important but at the same time, sustainable development should be an integral part. How far have we come or where do we stand? What is the road ahead that needs to be followed in terms of involvement that are required from the government (centre and states), the private players as well as the common man?
HG: Sustainable development is a broad term but as mentioned before large percent of this development is also happening to create sustainable infrastructure. However, well to wheel analysis while promoting new technologies is lacking and not transparently disclosed. To be sure. CRISIL estimates that nearly Rs 28-30 lakh crore of green investments will happen between fiscal 23-30. Please also note that these investments have a high share = nearly 85% from RE followed by transport infra, green hydrogen and ancillary items. The share of private players in these investments is pegged at 50%, much higher than the regular infra-high sector share.
MS: India has become the fastest in renewable energy capacity addition among major economies and has added over 100 gigawatts of renewable energy capacity by the end of 2021 with the vision of 500 gigawatts by 2030. What's the future ahead and how can the momentum be maintained?
HG: Continuous reforms in the distribution landscape are important for us to meet the 500 GW goals. Further policy evolution to adapt grid infra, smart metering, and energy storage would be needed to stabilise the economy. Please note nearly 165 GW of RE is estimated to be added between fiscal 23-30. A large percentage of this will be solar energy. There will also be 65-70GW of storage capacities that will come on stream.
MS: How can the Internet of Things and AI be leveraged to enhance connectivity and communication between Clean Energy & infrastructure systems to reduce the impact of climate change?
HG: Efficiency is one focus area of clean transition. To be sure we have targets to improve efficiency by 40% by fiscal 2030. Ability to do dynamic billing to incentivise people to use less power during expensive peak hours. Similarly, people who continuously lower usage can be incentivised. Further, dynamic coverage via sensors to understand the position of the Sun improves PLFs in another area.
MS: Women 20 formed under India's G20 Presidency. What will it take for India to have a higher number of Women Leaders on a Global Scale?
HG: I believe having women as a part of leadership or the workforce is a process. India had a women leader – our late prime minister Ms Indira Gandhi in the 80s when the US still didn't have its first woman president. So clearly there is no relation with per capita income. Relation lies in the ecosystem and having flexible and agile workforces. Post covid ability to work from home will structurally result in a higher number of women in the workforce while currently immediately after the pandemic many are leaving the workplace. Also, overall skill set development needs to push for diverse viewpoints. This process itself will enable participation as we move ahead. It’s a gradual process that needs to happen naturally as a part of societal development and not pushed too hard for women to feel that their presence is to fill an additional tick mark.
MS: One question for our student leaders, who would be looking at you as an inspiration? What kind of modern-day education backed by AI and other technology is required to ensure we have stronger economists in future?
HG: I think education has become fluid and that’s what students of today need to understand. Skill sets are changing rapidly and hence young people need to be open to continuously evolving to acquire skill sets continuously. Whether it is technology or energy or climate, keep yourself open to learning.
About Hetal Gandhi
Hetal Gandhi is the lead researcher for the past 15+ years at CRISIL. She has handled the infra portfolio and now focuses on energy transition, climate change and ESG.
Sustainable investments are set to account for a large share in infrastructure investments in India and working at CRISIL for 15 years, has provided Hetal a unique opportunity to lead areas in this domain. Energy transition covering renewables, agriculture and decarbonising transportation has provided her a unique opportunity to have a bird's eye view of sustainable and green investments in India. As India progresses to meet the PARIS targets 2030 the role of investments in renewable energy, decarbonising transport with a focus on electric vehicles and promoting unique interventions in agriculture will be crucial.
Hetal is managing a team of over 20 analyst to track developments across infra and consumption space to know India's role in this journey.
About the Interviewer
Mahima Sharma is a Senior Journalist based in Delhi NCR. She has been in the field of TV, Print & Online Journalism since 2005 and previously an additional three years in the allied media. In her span of work she has been associated with CNN-News18, ANI - Asian News International (A collaboration with Reuters), Voice of India, Hindustan Times and various other top media brands of their times. In recent times, she has diversified her work as a Digital Media Marketing Consultant & Content Strategist as well. Since March 2022, she is also an Entrepreneurship Education Mentor at Women Will - An Entrepreneurship Program by Google in Collaboration with SHEROES. Mahima can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Disclaimer : The opinions expressed within this interview are the personal opinions of the interviewed protagonist. The facts & statistics, the work profile details of the protagonist and the opinions appearing in the answers do not reflect the views of Indiastat or the Journalist. Indiastat or the Journalist do not hold any responsibility or liability for the same.
... Read more