The Chinese Solar Story: Some Learnings

India’s decision to adopt green energy through solar has opened up new opportunities for energy and economic growth through industrial development. And although, India’s initiatives to support and ramp up solar should be commended, the country is nowhere close to giants like China who have become the global supplier and have dwarfed other countries in solar installations (~145 GW). China announced a new energy policy in June 2018, which terminated approvals for new, subsidized utility-scale PV power stations, halting in-country solar growth within China. The country’s new announcement of revising renewable energy consumption targets to 35% by 2030 puts China back in its mantle of industry leader.

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The Re-Alignment

China’s previous decision to shrink its renewable energy target would have dealt a terrible blow to aspiring solar manufacturing industries in developing countries like- India with influx of cheaper solar modules. However, this new policy revision re-iterates how China continues to re-align its industries and priorities to support solar growth. The new policy shows China proposing higher green power consumption targets while mandating penal action against those who fail to meet goals to help fund government subsidies to producers. China became the leading force in global solar industry (in 2017, China accounted for 54% of global PV installations) by focusing on expanding manufacturing capacities and offered subsidies to projects development. Growing subsidy cost ($15.6 billion in 2016) which are suspected to reach $39 billion by 2020 pushed China to stop its renewable energy expansion.

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However, what is exceptional is how rapidly China has solved its internal issues and are back with solar energy growth. The reason behind China’s prompt action is its obvious understanding of the solar opportunity and the promise it holds. By focusing on solar manufacturing capacity growth, China has been able to support industrial growth. Leading to job creation and economic progress. As testimony, we can take example of India and China’s influence over its solar market. ~80% of Indian solar market has been claimed by China and in In FY 17-18 the India’s solar module import expenditure stood at $3.8 billion (mostly from China). This proves that China’s decision on gaining manufacturing prowess has served the country well. And to protect what the country had built, to create and maintain demand of its domestically manufactured solar products, and to keep encouraging solar entrepreneurs; in a nutshell we can say that China sprung to action to press on its advantage in the growing global solar industry.

India Must Re-Prioritize Solar

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India has taken initiatives and created policy environment to support solar manufacturing. However, recent policy developments such as imposing 25% safeguard duties that target SEZ based solar manufacturers, differential GST rates (5% for modules and 12-18% for other inputs), and continued solar importing (FY 17-18 spent $3.8 bn) have come forward as a great challenge for domestic solar manufacturing in India.

Like China and other dominating solar countries, India must understand that strengthening domestic manufacturing eco-system is not just the best but the only choice for India to gain energy security and self reliance. And as statistics show, India can become the third largest economy in the world by focusing on domestic manufacturing, which promises to improve social, industrial, and economic infrastructure. Domestic solar manufacturing can create jobs, reduce import expenses, build industrial infrastructure within a country. This is clearly in alignment of ‘Make in India’ initiative, which also need to be re-prioritized for India’s growth.

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India has an exceptional opportunity to become energy super power and facilitate industrial and economic growth through choosing solar. But, manufacturing has to be focused to see this transition into reality. India has the perfect example in front of it, and it is China. China’s growth and tenacity towards supporting solar growth should inspire India to go all in solar.

Keeping it cool: The urgent need to control emissions before it’s too late

A recent report by The Centre for Policy Research and International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis has predicted that India’s CO2 emissions from energy generation will nearly double in 2030 from its 2012’s emission figures. Although, this 91-98% increase in CO2 emission is still going to be in line with nationally determined (in Paris Agreement) CO2 emission level; factoring in 2012’s emission figures-2 billion tonnes of CO2, it is safe to say that the rise is considerable.

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The Bittersweet Dilemma

The research report showed that recently introduced policies (2015 and beyond) are well in their way to lead India towards a faster than predicted green energy transition, which will shrink coal’s dominating share in India’s energy equation and reduce per capita emissions than today’s global average. In that case, we can come to an understanding that the policy interventions and Government initiatives towards renewable energy (especially solar) growth will have a material impact on reducing India’s future emissions.

The report also shines light on the fact that even if India’s emissions doubled by 2030, it will be lower than China’s equivalent emissions in 2015. Therefore, it can be considered as a progressive environment building up towards a sustainable green future, right?

Well, it is progressive indeed but we also have to understand that although, this is a move towards success, the picture is not very appealing right now. The efforts need to be considerably increased to reach and frankly surpass the goals. It will help us reduce our carbon emissions even more, which is a necessity.

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The Current Scenario

Presently, India is going through terrible shifts in environment behaviour, due to increased CO2 emissions within the country and the world. There are unprecedented spells of hot weather, change in Monsoon bringing issues of droughts and flood, significant fall in crop yield that can destabilize the social, economic structure of the country, adding to the turmoil.

Research has found that areas in north-western India, Jharkhand, Orissa, and Chhattisgarh have seen considerable drop in crop yield and suspected to fall further due to changing climate. As India is dependent on agriculture and about 60% of its agriculture is supported by rain, higher or lower than average rains are affecting the country. Also, rising carbon dioxide levels due to global warming is suspected to shrink down the amount of protein in crops like rice and wheat, which are the primary food source for majority of the population in India. Such conditions are leaving populations at risk of malnutrition, low immunity and raising the risk of diseases affecting the population severely.

India recorded its hottest day in the city of Phalodi, Rajasthan, when the temperature reached 51 degree C and according to a research by MIT in the US, the temperature in India will further increase in coming years.

Coastal cities like Kolkata, Chennai, and Mumbai are also suspected to be affected by sea level rise. Rising sea-level and surges of storm would also impact agriculture, degrade groundwater quality, increasing the risk of contamination in water, and giving rise to diarrhoea and cholera.

Way Forward

With effects of climate change getting dangerous every year, countries like India need to boost efforts at reducing CO2 emissions now, which is an opportunity now through opting renewable  energy transition (mainly solar). We, as a country, should understand that lowering our future CO2 emissions in comparison to industrial giant China’s past emission statistics (its 2015’s emission statistics) is not a win for us now and we need to rectify internal mechanics to support renewable energy growth. It is important to highlight that The Government of India introduced National Clean Energy Fund (NCEF) in 2010-11, as India’s carbon tax, levying duties on coal to fund cleaner energy projects and combat climate change. And in last 6-7 years, India has collected more than Rs 54,000 crore through clean energy cess by levying taxes on coal mined or imported. However, it is important to note that only half of the total collected cess (22,063 Crore) was transferred to NCEF from 2010-2017. From that amount, the investment towards projects were amount INR 17,469 crores from 2011 to 2017, and MNRE’s share from that amount was INR 12,429 Crore. On top of that, the Government of India using NCEF fund to compensate various state Governments for their loss in revenue due to GST, clearly contradicts with India’s green energy vision and initiatives.

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India must utilize initiatives such as NCEF and incorporate other policies such as- carbon pricing, while supporting renewable energy growth through investment and encouragement. It is apparent that joining the fight against climate change is not a choice anymore it is a necessity. Although initiatives of the Government should be appreciated, we should not sit idly by the predictions of a marginal success. We need to focus at prioritizing the renewable energy industry and solving its critical issues through investment and policy intervention to create momentum and see our country solve not just energy issues, but create a better social and economic structure that works towards restoring the environment.

Note: This article was published in prominent solar magazines like- EQmagpro, Energy Economic Times on 17th November 2018.

Balance between Work and Life: Carving Out a Path that Leads to Success

The elusive idea of maintaining balance between work and life may seem unrealistic or just an unsubstantiated theory. Those who are striving to excel and progress in their career may even feel that it is something they need to sacrifice in pursuit of career goals. However, from my perspective, balance in work and personal life is an important tool that helps people succeed in life. And without it, success is always incomplete. As an entrepreneur, I learned quickly that the role one plays in their career, whether as a leader or an employee, they are closely related and supported by their personal life. Think of it this way, if your career is a journey towards a destination, then your personal life is your companion. Therefore, it is fair to state that acquiring balance between work and life is a necessity, not an option. And the best part of seeking and finding balance in life is that it can come at no cost. No need for you to visit seminars about managing life or find a Guru, just adding a few things to your priority list like me, and it will do the job just fine. Let me break it down for you.

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Being Aware Of Your Needs in Life/Divide and Conquer

I learned from my father at a very young age that awareness and acceptance are the first and second steps of a three-step process to build a happy and successful life. A did not grasp the entirety of the meaning that time, but later I felt that really makes sense. Everyone in this world has a shot at winning but the confused one. Work is very important of course, it fuels your dreams and creates the vision for your future. However, it is equally important to accept the importance of your personal life. It will help you be better aware of what you need from life. What I like to do is create a plan to spend time on doing things that I am passionate about, getting away from work for a few moments. And it works like a charm! Dividing your work and personal life pursuits will help you to focus on both, without ignoring one in favour of the other. It could be enjoying sports, delving into literature or spending time with family. Taking time apart from work will re-prioritize your life goals and allow you to remove stress of work from the equation. As a career oriented professional, you must have endless priorities and an ocean of work, but you must believe that carving out time from work for personal pursuits is always possible. And you will start to see a more calm and composed version of you working towards success while enjoying life in all its entirety.

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Managing Goals & Priorities

It doesn’t need to be explained that performance is everything when you have a vision for the future. Sure, you have developed a strategy to pursue your vision, but lack of performance can see you settle for mediocrity in life, in place of greatness. However, in some cases business goals do become extremely demanding. It leaves no extra space in your life for personal requirements, and as a result, stress and frustration seeps into our lives. Like every entrepreneur, I have soldiered through such an experience as well. What I came to know from my experience is that work stress is not always a direct result of work pressure. I trust that we all can work under tremendous pressure for something we deeply desire in life. However, what differentiates success from failure at such circumstances- are  moments of reprieve. Stress builds up when you deny yourself a few moments of relaxation in life, which can be easily achieved by focusing on your personal needs.

Take it from me, managing your goals and priorities can help you to identify your priorities to maintain a positive attitude. The first step to manage priorities would be to-

Prioritize your time by dividing your work in 4 parts:

  • Urgent and important
  • Important but not urgent
  • Urgent but not important
  • Neither urgent nor important

This will give you a clear-cut action plan and if efficiently executed, I believe this process can even help you to carve out time from work for personal growth.

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Inspire and Delegate

As an entrepreneur and veteran business owner, I completely understand the urge to take on all the work to ensure perfect execution. Every ambitious entrepreneur who has a vision for his/her business, feels this pull to dive into every assignment. However, as I felt that it is practically impossible to do all the work by myself. And even if you try and start to see expected results, it won’t be long until you lose the vision of the bigger picture and get tangled into day-to-day work. Thus getting more stressed out and losing your chance of finding balance in life.

To solve this issue, I personally feel it better to communicate my vision to teammates and inspire them to uphold high standards in performance. It always works well, offering my teammates an understanding of my business vision and building trust within the team.  Following this process will free you up from taking on day-to-day tasks, and give you perspective to guide your teammates while carving out personal time to bring balance in life.

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I do understand that directing the team is easy and following the path to success is often hard. However, I believe following battle tested paths rules out the chance of confusion. So, I welcome you all to seek ‘synergistic harmony’ between professional and personal life, and it will empower you to win in life and experience the entirety of life without regrets.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Companies Grow When Leaders Evolve

As the business/company grows, entrepreneurs start to see challenges in prioritizing and setting goals, knowing and providing Dos and Don’ts for the team, identifying resource performance and assigning right jobs to the right people, measuring progress and keeping record of it. And, doing all this while keeping the bigger picture in mind! Doing this myself, I felt that operational changes are not enough to offer the transition, which all businesses have to go through to manage new demands and stay relevant. Understanding and accepting that- aid of ideological change was also required- was one of the brightest ‘Eureka’ moments I had in my career. However, my realisation that change is necessary is not that only thing that transformed my business, the management team leading my organization has played an equally important role in etching success.

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What I am trying to say is that even the greatest leaders need help to accomplish the smallest of tasks. Therefore, in a sense each component of the organization is a leader in his/her own right and have to evolve to succeed.

Evolving Equals to Doing More of Everything

Leaders in the organization are already responsible for ‘The Big Picture’, as in the company’s future or primary vision. It is easy to glean that this responsibility encompasses the whole business mechanism. However, in order to ascertain continuous growth of the company, the leaders must shoulder even more responsibility and play many more roles within the organization.

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Inspiring the Team

Since the Leader has the perfect idea of where the company needs to go, I believe it is his/her responsibility to find and communicate the path to success. Leaders need to evolve and find ways to inspire their team through communicating their vision. Just as Mr. Rajendra Parakh, Chief Financial Officer of Vikram Solar does. Communication and interaction have been Mr. Parakh’s tools to inspire his team. His words, articulate portrayals of the goals and the paths have helped the team to handle one of the toughest and complicated jobs (money management) with distinction.

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Being a Teacher/Trainer

Sometimes transference of business vision turns out to be too much for the team members. Sometimes they need to forget about the ‘Big Picture’ and only focus towards the best way to complete the work at hand. I always believed that a Leader must evolve into a teacher to help the team understand problems and provide instructions that can support ‘on the job learning’ and building careers. And Mr. Ivan Saha, Manufacturing Head of Vikram Solar believes so as well. Mr. Saha’s guidance and prompt response to find solutions even in day-to-day assignments have given him the mantle of a Teacher within the manufacturing team.

Being Open

Being professional is a priority for a leader of course. However, I learned in a very young age that business is a living, breathing organism. It needs human touch as much as strategic decisions and calculated operations. I have always tried to incorporate a friendlier and open approach at the organization to walk on these identified steps.

Being a Good Example

Leaders must lead by examples. I believe that becoming an example of his/her own ideals and teachings can help the leader easily inspire the team. Just like Ms. Neha Agrawal, Head of Corporate Strategy & Rooftop Business. Being dedicated, focused, and precise at every point of work, she has inspired her team and the entirety of Vikram Solar to always be ready to work beyond expectations and overachieve.

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Leading the Team Involves Learning from the Team

Leading a team of admirable professionals, each one a leader in their own right, inspires, pushes, and challenges one to break conventions, to be bold, to excel. And If I have achieved even a fraction of these great attributes, it is because of my team. From the very inception, all I wanted to build was an organization that would work in unison with a noble purpose and give something sustainable back to the community, to the world.

In the end I would like to say that besides evolving to play numerous roles in an organization, a leader must collaborate and learn from his team while leading the team towards success.

Do Not Curb Your Expectations, Curb Stress

The things we want, the goals we set for ourselves, all come from within. And, our
expectations change continuously. Business leaders and entrepreneurs may sometimes feel that more intensely than others, as they continuously align their own expectations with growing and evolving market demand and choices. Needless to say this creates an environment of stress and anxiety. Often so much that it starts to impact on health negatively. At that moment when work takes a toll on health, it is very natural to contemplate if having higher expectations in life have led to this scenario. However, before deciding to trim your expectations, you need to understand that expectations are not the problem; it is stress that you have to deal with.

Expectations are not the problem
No, they are most certainly not! It is our expectations that lead us towards success. We are hardwired to overreach, and to expect more in life is the only way to make it better. Human civilization would never have scaled this height and the word ‘leader’ would never have been created if we did not think of putting in more work to get better results. So, you should never think of removing or curbing expectations in your life. However, that does not mean that you have to leave with stress day in and out.
To get relief from stress born of expectations, you have to find the primary want behind
your pursuits and remove others. By, saying ‘others’ we mean expectations that are not
your own but imposed upon you by the community, circle of friends, colleagues. These can be trimmed while you focus on your primary ambition and allow it enough space to evolve. Giving other’s expectations, too much space in your life is like fighting at hundred different fronts, which may led to reduce your priority towards your primary goals.

Focus on what YOU want
Figuring out your own expectations from life, depending on your personal and business pursuits and accepting the work that comes with it would help you shed off the excess weight and feel free of stress. We are always influenced by others, often they shape our characters and push us towards reaching our goals. Therefore, it will be challenging for you to identify and strip away expectations that only burden you with unnecessary stress and do not aid in your growth. However, once you have done that, you will know yourself better.

Set achievable goals
After your primary expectations are in sight, you need to simplify your previously complex and tangled path of action. Now, obviously you have envisioned the bigger picture, which your expectations will portray in near future, but it is important to set smaller goals that lead up to that success, to fend off stress. Small goals will allow you to make the right decisions and build your confidence through small but effective an educating wins. Therefore, it is very important that you set small and achievable goals to keep improving and winning in your career and life without stress.

Being a successful business leader or an entrepreneur with a vision, you would have to swim through a sea of challenges. And stress can be your greatest enemy in this journey towards success. However, curbing your expectations from life is not the right way to go about. You need to do a little bit of soul searching to find out the voice of your own needs and leave everything else behind. Having a singular objective can create a simpler path for life, removing stress or anxiety from the equation.SONY DSC