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Corporates are heading towards on-site renewable energy generation
Sustainability Outlook spoke to Rohan M Parikh, Head of Green Initiatives & Infrastructure on Infosys's latest endeavorsinto sustainable resource management and the futures plans for their green initiative program.
Why is Infosys investing in sustainable resource management and a comprehensive green initiatives program?
Infosys has always been a socially and environmentally responsible company. It is the leadership shown by the management that has driven Infosys to invest in resource efficiency. Also, we have realized that investing in resource efficiency is highly profitable as we have been able to save over 650 million kWh (80 million USD) in the last 6 years due to our efforts in energy efficiency alone. We want to set new standards and set an example for other companies.
What challenges do you face as you move towards 100% renewable energy? How are you overcoming these challenges?
Renewable energy focus today is mostly from wind and solar. Wind is available in specific locations and solar requires space. The initial investment required may be huge but it’s the uncertainty in the renewable policies by governments that are putting off investors in many cases. Also, the quality of products available and warranties are crucial for big investments, when there are no clear standards/policies available. Firstly, we are working to influence regulators/policy makers by working with them to evolve attractive and ‘long term’ renewable energy policies. Solar PV costs today have dropped significantly compared to say 5 years ago. We have worked out a detailed calculation and found that the IRR for solar PV can be more than 16% considering rising electricity costs. Secondly, we are evaluating several vendors for solar systems and developing our own standards to be sure of quality and life of the system and its components. With these, we hope to move towards 100% renewable energy for Infosys by 2018.
What role do intelligent smart grids / micro grids play in helping corporates integrate renewable energy generation, smart building systems, and move to 100% renewable energy?
With increasing demand for electricity from grid and supply shortages, we are facing major problems of electricity blackouts, instability and price volatility. To counter these challenges, many corporates are heading towards on-site renewable energy generation. To derive maximum value from renewable energy, it is crucial to ensure that it is efficiently stored and distributed. Smart grids and micro grids play a pivotal role in optimizing the use of generated renewable energy. They enable:
- Efficient Storage & distribution
- Elimination of distribution losses
- Matching supply with demand
- Reduction of operational costs
- Real time data monitoring
- Reduction of carbon emissions
They incorporate information technologies and communication across the entire process starting from generation to delivery. This helps in monitoring data, improving diagnostic capabilities and anticipating power shortages. India offers favorable conditions for generating renewable energy. Smart infrastructure for efficient storage, distribution, and overall management coupled with supportive policy and regulatory frameworks can result into an integrated sustainable electricity system.
What sorts of retrofits are feasible to carry out at a large scale on Indian corporate buildings? What sort of new building designs could be scaled up in Indian market?
Significant amount of energy is consumed by HVAC (Heating, ventilation, and Air Conditioning), lighting and computer systems. Scaling up retrofits in these areas will help in optimizing building operations and at the same time bring monetary gains. At Infosys, we have achieved huge reductions in energy consumption by undertaking retrofits in HVAC, lighting, computer systems, and building envelope. From our HVAC retrofits alone, we have witnessed 10.1MW reduction in connected load.
New building designs focusing on an efficient building envelope offer enormous potential for Indian markets to achieve greater operational efficiency. It includes appropriate north- south orientation, insulated walls and roof, window wall ratio (25-30%), and high performance glazing with adequate shading. This reduces air conditioning and lighting load as the heat ingress is low and maximum amount of light is allowed into the building. All our new buildings incorporate an efficient envelope right from the design stage. All systems need to be accurately designed; equipments need to be efficient, metered and monitored accurately to ensure efficiency over a long term.
As you implement sustainability interventions, who have been your external implementation partners / vendors / service providers? Where does the finance for green initiatives come from?
We have a dedicated team which is constantly pushing boundaries and trying out new ideas for creating a self-sustained and healthy environment. All our sustainable interventions are planned, financed, implemented, and managed by Infosys internally. We have partnered with various institutes at national and global level to always be ahead of the curve.
What new innovations or technologies are Infosys thinking of implementing? What business issue(s) could these technologies solve?
At Infosys, we have adopted various innovative technologies to increase our energy efficiency. We have redefined building designs and standards by implementing pioneering technologies like radiant cooling, radiant-panel based cooling, among others. We would like to focus on wireless, battery-less sensors & switches, magnetic bearings, innovative dehumidification techniques, innovative daylighting techniques, efficient equipments, so on and so forth. Our short term aim for new buildings is to achieve and EPI of 50 kWh/sqm per year (all inclusive)
These technologies could solve the following problems:
- Rising energy costs
- Overuse of equipment
- Usage of precious metals
- Energy wastage
- Increasing pressure on depleting natural resources to carry out business activities
- Environment damages due to carbon emissions in the atmosphere