The plan to venture in India will make India the first country outside Europe in this space, keeping in mind that, India aims to power most of its vehicles with electricity by 2030. We are constantly evaluating the Indian market for charging infrastructure. On our radar are the advanced cities with higher per capita incomes and people with greater disposable incomes. So, in addition to Hyderabad and Mumbai, we are looking at cities like Delhi, Chennai, Bengaluru, Chandigarh, Ahmedabad and Pune, says Sanjay Aggarwal, Managing Director, Fortum India and Juha Suomi, Area Director, Asia, Fortum eNext. In conversation with Manu Tayal, Associate Editor, Saur Energy International, Aggarwal and Suomi shared their views jointly on various topics including their company’s future action plan in the renewable energy segment. Here’re the excerpts from that exclusive interview published in the Saur Energy International Magazine’s May 2019 edition:
Q. Kindly shed some light on Fortum’s journey in India and its contribution towards clean & green energy.
In India, we started our activities in 2012 with an acquisition of an operating 5 MW solar plant in Rajasthan, Fortum has created a portfolio of 685 MW (185 operating and 500 under development) solar assets in India. It has formed a Joint Venture with Numaligarh Refinery Limited along with Chempolis for setting up a bamboo-based Bio- Refinery Plant. Followed by solar energy, we are also in the business of EV charging stations named ‘Fortum Charge & Drive’. As Charge Point Operator it has a network of more than 3000 smart chargers in Nordic country out of which more than 30% are DC quick chargers. Starting with a pilot in October 2017, Fortum has already made 40 charging points operational in Hyderabad and Mumbai sub urban area. While these charging points serves to 4-wheelers passenger cars, we have also launched a pilot project of Battery Swapping for 3 –wheelers in and around DLF Mall of India, Noida where 30 Zbees (e-Autos) are operating with 2X 1.5 kWh swappable battery pack.
Coming to an epoch-making concern, many countries along with India already have a strict limit on the emission of nitrogen oxides; thus, NOx reduction technologies are being widely deployed. Keeping this in mind, Fortum would like to bring its own advanced time and cost saving Primary NOx reduction technology to India, to support India in reaching its sustainability goals.
It is our goal to develop and encourage product use that are environment friendly and sustainable. For example, our business in biomass replaces unsustainable materials such as plastic. It has been our long-committed goal to innovate and commercialise bio-fractioning methods in cooperation with partners across various fields. The result is a resource efficient and flexible way to produce sustainable and pure materials and end-products. This will take us one step closer to a cleaner world.
Q. What is the current aggregate capacity (including operating and development) of Fortum’s solar assets in India?
With an acquisition of an operating 5 MW solar plant in Rajasthan, Fortum has created a portfolio of 685 MW (185 operating and 500 under development) solar assets in India. Our ambition and vision are clear. We wish to add around 250-300MW solar project every year.
Q. What is Fortum’s NOx reduction technology? Globally, where you have used this technology so far? How it will help Indian players?
NOx technology aims to reduce NOx emissions which are very harmful to health and cause acid rains which are harmful for forests and lakes. Over the last 30 years, the European Union has periodically tightened the NOx emission regulation for thermal power plants. Fortum has developed its own NOx reduction technology since 1990’s and successfully completed more than 50 similar projects in Central Europe and Asia. Fortum eNext’s advanced NOx technology reduces emissions effectively by staging and optimising the combustion process, thus elimination of NOx formation at its source. Fortum eNext’stime and cost saving tailor-made combustion solutions to help thermal power plants comply with the new NOx emission regulation.
NOx level of 300mg/Nm3 can be met with our advanced NOx reduction methods without increasing operational expenditures.
As thermal is going to be a mainstay in India’s energy mix for the next 30 years, the Indian government has, among other things, defined new allowed NOx emission levels for thermal power plants in India to be achieved by 2022.
Emissions norms for coal-based thermal power plants in India
To support India to achieve this goal, Fortum has introduced its own innovative NOx reduction technology in India under the new business line called ‘Fortum eNext’.
Lastly waste to energy excites Fortum and we have done several projects in Nordics. Bio ethanol and biomass related energy systems, waste to energy, Battery lifecycle solutions, hazardous waste management would increase their share of Fortum offering as we go forward.
Q. Do you have any plans for further expansion in India? If yes, in which segments?
From our perspective clearly as of now renewable would remain the central piece. In renewable, it will be essentially solar. Alongside, we clearly see electric mobility coming up. With respect to e-mobility whether it is battery swapping or electric EV charging infrastructure, we would clearly be there. We are putting up a bamboo-based bio-ethanol refinery in Assam in a joint venture with Numaligarh Refinery Limited along with Chempolis. In the next 5 years, we would build on whatever we have done in solar. We would build on whatever we have done in e-mobility. We would complete bio- ethanol projects and look for more opportunities.
As far as our bio-ethanol project is concerned it is the project which has gone the farthest among various projects which are there. So clearly, I think the group expects that in some areas we would continue the growth path, in some where we may not be the market leaders, but we clearly would like to be the thought leaders that we would bring in the new concept.
Q. What is Fortum’s eNext, its benefits and how it will help power plants in improving their operations?
Fortum eNext, part of Fortum Corporation, helps thermal power plants improve their operations and reduce emissions. The offering includes highly specialized expert services throughout the whole life cycle of a power plant, such as environmental solutions and turbine and generator repairs and overhauls. Further, Fortum eNext provides full-scope operation and maintenance services as well as solutions for energy efficiency improvements and production optimization.
Q. How much Fortum is expected to invest in Indian solar market? By when? And why India?
In terms of investments, I would not like to talk about specific numbers, but our ambition and vision is clear. As announced by the company earlier, we wish to invest around 200-400 Million Euro in India. Which may actually add around 250-300 MW solar project every year.
India has contributed immensely to the energy mix when it comes to solar segment. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s energy agenda has set an ambitious target for renewables. The aim is to increase renewable capacity on the grid to 175GW by the end of 2022. Around 100GW of that capacity is expected to come from solar photovoltaics (PV). Going forward, India plan to have 500 GW of Renewable capacity installed by 2030 ie 40% of Energy mix will be by Renewable. It is difficult to comment as of now on India converting to 100 percent Renewable in the years to come. But it can definitely contribute largely in the Energy Mix, once Storage also become a reality with viable commercial business model. Q In your view, what should be done on top priority in order to achieve India’s ambitious goal towards Electric Vehicles (EVs) by 2030?
According to World Health Organization Report, out of the 20 most polluted cities in the world, 14 are in India. Not surprisingly, vehicular pollution is one of the major contributors to the deteriorating air quality in the country. In this background, adoption of electric vehicles (EV) have emerged as the most viable option to help curb the emissions from transport sector. E-mobility has three stakeholders – OEMs, Charging Infrastructure providers, and Consumers. Amongst all, it is consumer who is the ultimate driver.
A consumer will like to be assured of getting charge at their preferred location, time, and price to get over their range anxiety. This requires a robust, ubiquitous, and friendly charging station network. As charging takes more time than gasoline fueling, consumer would like to find charging station in an interesting place where they would feel happy to spend time while their car gets charged. Also, they would like to know on real time basis where and which charging points are free for charging, what is the price of the charge, how secured is their car while it is being charged etc. All these would make her/his charging experience a happy one.
For EV to be acceptable, consumers have to be assured of availability of charging stations like fuel stations for ICE vehicles. If adequate and appropriate charging points are available within cities as well as along highways, it would alleviate the range concerns of vehicle users. Currently, the foremost concern a driver of vehicle is what they would do if they stuck in jam and battery is showing low. A robust charging station network would give them confidence and that would work as pull effect for OEMs.
Developing large scale charge point network in Indian urban environment will be more challenging. High upfront capital costs and present low levels of uptake for electric vehicles mean that returns on investment will only be realised over longer periods. That would require for government to create opportunities for investment in new rapid charging infrastructure by reducing key barriers to investment, in particular access to suitable sites with sufficient power. Government support would be required in addressing above issues by not only making location available for this purpose if we have to roll out a good network of charging stations but also undertake electricity grid upgrades, wherever needed. To begin with, all parking places must have minimum 20% of parking earmarked for Charging station. These locations could be used for DC fast charging. The earmarked parking spaces should be given to potential charging service provider for setting up of charging stations along with upgraded electricity infrastructure. Government has given the initial momentum to EV which will help it reach to early adaptors. As more and more countries are adopting EVs, it will shortly start moving on high pace and India being globally connected economy will reap the benefits of global adoption and it will reach to majority stage in shorter span than other countries as Indian customers will form part of early majority in terms of Global market. Further, with more and more renewable energy, which is variable in nature, fed in the grid, use of EVs shall provide the flexible load to balance the system.
Q. Fortum has already established around 40 EV charging points in Hyderabad and Mumbai. In the next phase, in which cities are you planning to enter and by when?
The plan to venture in India will make India the first country outside Europe in this space, keeping in mind that, India aims to power most of its vehicles with electricity by 2030. We are constantly evaluating the Indian market for charging infrastructure. On our radar are the advanced cities with higher per capita incomes and people with greater disposable incomes. So, in addition to Hyderabad and Mumbai, we are looking at cities like Delhi, Chennai, Bengaluru, Chandigarh, Ahmedabad and Pune.