Setting up a clean tech hub

Written by Rajiv Tikoo | Updated: Dec 1 2009, 04:15am hrs
Indias insistence on transfer of clean technology from industrialised countries to developing countries to fight climate change may indicate that the country has a fixed position on the issue, but in practice the country has been pursuing a multi-pronged policy.

While Indias call for viewing clean technologies as public goods is predicated on the countrys position that fighting climate change is primarily the responsibility of industrialised countries for having caused most of it in the first place, it is informed by the contentious issues like IPRs surrounding technology transfer.

Mohanjit Jolly, executive director, Draper Fisher Jurvetson India, a leading venture capitalist, puts it aptly by saying that the IP protection culture, system and processes need to be put in place if India is to progress in terms of innovation in clean technology. He adds: Technology transfer will take place only if the interests of innovators and inventors are compensated.

Rajiv Arya, CEO, Moser Baer Photovoltaic, says: Though patents never get in the way if business makes sense, financial incentives for costlier tech would expedite their deployment.

In fact, to get around the IPR issue, India, in its submission to UNFCCC, has called for setting up a global network of climate innovation centres (CICs) to enable development and deployment of clean technology. CICs would not only spur technology innovation, but also undertake capacity building in developing countries, depending on local needs. After doing due diligence to identify appropriate technologies to fight climate change in their respective parts of the world, the centres would embark on their development and deployment. They would undertake capacity building at the local level to overcome barriers to their assimilation.

While multilateral negotiations take their own time, India has been moving ahead and entering into bilateral agreements with a host of countries to enhance technology development and transfer. India has already inked memoranda of understanding (MoUs) with countries like the US, Canada, Denmark, Norway and China on climate change issues, including clean technology.

India and the US signed an MoU to strengthen partnership on energy security, energy efficiency, clean energy and climate change during Prime Minister Manmohan Singhs recent meeting with President Barack Obama in Washington. It also calls for launching a new India-US clean energy R&D initiative to catalyse innovation and deployment of clean energy technologies

Similarly, the Sino-Indian memorandum of agreement on cooperation on addressing climate change seeks to further collaboration between the two countries on technology development to cut down greenhouse gas emissions, including through conservation, efficiency, renewables, use of clean coal, transportation and sustainable habitat. The agreement outlines establishment of two forums to achieve its objectives.

Indias MoU with Canada on energy seeks to enhance cooperation between the two countries in renewables and energy efficiency, oil & natural gas, and power. Besides, it would focus on research & development of energy-related issues.

The MoU between India and Denmark for cooperation on clean development mechanism (CDM) aims to undertake joint projects that reduce global greenhouse gas emissions. Its objectives are to facilitate the transfer of technology & know-how and procurement by the Danish government and/or private Danish companies of certified emission reductions (CERs) from India through CDM project development.

India has also signed an MoU with Norway to focus on the implementation of the CDM projects. While Norway has committed to encourage Norwegian investors to develop CDM projects in India, the latter has committed to support project participants by fast-tracking documentation.

Besides, India has been also trying to engage with its neighbours. During the recently held Saarc Clean Development Mechanism Conference in New Delhi, India offered to share its expertise on CDM with its neighbours and expand the countrys business interests.

These may look random initiatives, but they are filling up a big picture. India offers the promise of replicating the success of IT in clean technology, says Arun Seth, chairman, BT India. But if India has to become a net exporter of clean technology, its time to get our act together. Instead of worrying about transfer of clean technology from industrialised countries to developing countries, let us focus on exporting our indigenous technology.

In fact, Indian companies like Suzlon, Moser Baer and Tata-BP Solar are already leaders in the wind and solar energy space. But more needs to be done to have more such companies.