Conversations with India Series: Alternative Energy

Is Alternative Energy a Viable Proposition?


8 December 2009

Speaker: Mr Pramod Chaudhari, Chairman, Praj Group
Speaker: Mr Justin Adams, Vice President of Strategy and Ventures, BP Alternative Energy International Ltd
Moderator: Prof Gerry George, Professor of Innovation and Entrepreneurship and Director of Rajiv Gandhi Centre, Imperial College Business School

This session focused on:

  • The current viability of green energy technologies
  • The key challenges faced by companies worldwide in the commercialisation of green energy solutions
  • The innovative methods and best practices adopted by companies to ensure economic viability along with social viability and whether they can be applied globally
  • How the UK and India can collaborate to ensure sustainable, affordable, and secure green energy supplies

PChaudhariAs world leaders were meeting in Copenhagen to discuss climate change, two guest speakers visited the Business School to share their view of the challenges ahead. Pramod Chaudhari, Chairman of Praj Industries – a biofuel company – and Justin Adams, VP of BP Alternative Energy Ventures’ strategy team, talked about the long term viability of alternative energy solutions and the need for continued research, innovation and entrepreneurship as part of the Conversations with India series.

India is over-dependent on coal and oil imports for its growing energy requirements, said Mr. Chaudhari. The country needs to become more self-reliant and so, must move to alternative sources of energy. Yet the path to wind, solar, biomass and nuclear as energy sources is complex. Mr Chaudhari warned that the traditional focus on social, economical and technical considerations must be reconciled with ‘socio-ecological’ factors. These include resource availability, energy affordability and an equitable policy framework and are crucial to future development of alternative energy in India.

Moving from “viability to sustainability” relies on innovation, entrepreneurship and education, Mr. Chaudhari said.

Mr Adams agreed that education is crucial to the future of alternative energy. He said that skilled people in related disciplines like
power engineering and grid infrastructure were needed to drive innovation and realise the promise of alternative energy. Mr Adams was optimistic, as the industry is currently growing through innovation at an unprecedented rate, paid for by significant investment.

BP will next next visit the School in February, to explore policy questions faced by energy businesses after the Copenhagen Conference.

 

Mr Pramod Chaudhari, the founder-chairman of Praj Industries, global leader in bio-fuels technology, is an alumnus of IIT Bombay and Harvard Business School. He has actively pursued the green energy and climate change mitigation technologies for sustainability of business and the environment as a whole. His company Praj, which specializes in clean, green and renewable alternate fuel with a focus on ethanol, biodiesel technology and plant, has a worldwide presence. With revenues of close to INR 8 Bn, Praj has been the recipient of various recognitions including the ‘Forbes Best Under a Billion Asian Company’ for two years in a row.

JAdamsMr. Justin Adams in his current role at BP is responsible for guiding the strategic direction of Alternative Energy, and its constituent businesses, and aligning with the BP Group’s overall long term strategy. He also serves on the Board of a number of cleantech and carbon companies in the US and Europe including Mendel Biotechnology, Synthetic Genomics, South Pole Carbon Asset Management and E Stack Ltd. Prior to joining BP, Mr. Adams was the founder and CEO of High Power Lithium, a Swiss company developing next generation battery materials for hybrid electric vehicles in collaboration with Toyota. Justin has also worked as a consultant delivering strategic and techno-economic consulting on emerging energy technologies.
Watch a video of the full seminar (requires Real Player)