The Indo-German Energy Forum: Bringing together natural partners
BRIDGE TO INDIA attended the 3rd Indo-German Energy Forum (IGEF) on “Cities & Energy”, held on 2nd & 3rd May, 2012 at New Delhi, India.
- The IGEF aims to facilitate conversation between German technology providers and the Indian government through a series of meetings
- The topic of this meeting was “Solar & Cities” and looked at rooftop PV, solar thermal applications and financing
- The IGEF succeeds in bringing together two natural partners that are now beginning to understand each other and ultimately put that trust and understanding in doing business together
May 3rd 2012: I have just attended the Indo-German Energy Forum in New Delhi, organized by Gesellschaft fuer Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ). Like all events of this nature, it was held in a vast, nondescript, air-conditioned hall in a hotel. Today’s session started with a very interesting discussion on solar thermal applications. It was chaired by Additional Secretary, MNRE, Mr. Tarun Kapoor (soon to head the Solar Energy Corporation of India). Topics discussed where solar cooling, hybrid-solar thermal applications for industrial process heat and the benefits of fresnel technology. The session was followed by an equally interesting one on financing options in the Indian solar market.
Over and above the content of the presentations and discussions, the Indo-German Energy Forum creates a genuinely valuable platform for the exchange of knowledge, information and ideas. On the one hand, there is the immense Indian market, its challenges, its complex web of policies and programs, and the many, pressing needs of power consumers. On the other are the deep and innovative German technology clusters which offer many relevant solutions and have years of experience in implementing sustainability and renewable energy technologies.
However, putting together a German academic with a strong, almost incomprehensible accent, elaborating on intricate details of a specific technology with an Indian government official outlining the various programs on offer in power point presentations of seemingly endless bullet-points, does not yet produce a solution. That this is just the beginning of a long road is understood by participants and organizers. Thus, the Indo-German Energy Forum is designed as an ongoing series of relevant encounters, in which two natural partners slowly learn to understand each other, build trust, share information and – ultimately – do business with each other. The Forum is flanked by working groups in which specific Indian energy challenges are worked on in detail, producing first, tangible results in India.
In the end, German companies will not be able to succeed in India by selling expensive components that were built in and for a developed, sustainability-conscious market. Also, they will not be able to add value with products that are simple and standardized, where they are not cost-competitive. Quality and life-cycle-costs are not strong arguments in a very cash-driven economy like India’s. German companies will need to put their minds to work on developing integrated solutions for India. High-tech will need to be combined with low-cost, locally available value components. Going into execution, taking entrepreneurial risks and providing financing ideas are essential. The key strength that German sustainability companies have, is their tradition and experience in systemic thinking. In order to apply that to India, they need to become very local in execution. The game, therefore, changes from India being a difficult market for German products to Indians becoming great partners to German companies in jointly creating value. The Indo-German Energy Forum can facilitate this, not so much in the cool underbelly of a five-star hotel, but in India’s smoldering hot cities and countryside.
BRIDGE TO INDIA supports GIZ in making the forum a success.