“India probably needs 900GW of total power generation capacity by 2025 to really fulfil all its energy needs it has today.”

Smart solutions for smart cities inevitably means clean and green energy and the shift towards it needs to be understood and implemented well. With urban hubs set to decide the future, forward-thinking smart cities are looking to redefine their energy mix and distribution systems. Thrusting upon it, Dalip Sharma, Managing Director, Delta Electronics India talks to Manali Jaggi of BW SmartCities about smart and emerging energy concepts and their role in ensuring cleaner and leaner cities of tomorrow. Edited Excerpts:-

Tell us how are you empowering Indian smart cities with your offerings and what all cities are you working on currently under the government’s smart cities mission?

Delta is a much diversified company. We are into several different business verticals so if I combine all the offerings together, we pretty much have everything that a smart city needs. Right from a small component to a total solution. For example, If I were to take you around a smart city; smart poles, cameras for surveillance, traffic management or you talk about Wi-Fi hotspots or about water treatment or water management, waste management or you go to building management solutions for energy saving within a building, renewable energy or solar or storage or batteries, so, if you take all these points back to a NOC or a command and control centre of a smart city, there you see all this on a human interface which is a video wall. 

We have been actively engaged in smart cities right from the beginning. We have worked with 80 per cent of smart cities which have become smart so far in terms of one or more elements from Delta. For example, 80 per cent of smart cities have video walls in their control and command centres from Delta and most of them also have DC power solutions or solar inverters or cameras from Delta. We are now busy at stitching total end to end solutions to be offered to SI companies who then take it forward from there.

How many cities are you working on? Could you give us some names and numbers?

Till now we have almost been a part of about 10-11 smart cities. We know that 12 have happened and another 3 are in the very advance stage. So, we are almost there in 10-11 smart cities, some element or the other, one or more.

Tell me how is India gearing up for tapping the renewable and alternative sources of energy to boost the smart cities power needs and how do you envision the future ?

There are few things that come together here, few elements. If you look at the Indian population, it will overtake China’s population which is the largest populated country in the world by 2021, which means, our population is increasing. Then you look at how the middle class is increasing, we see a holistic rise in the middle class in the coming years. And then if you look at how the Indian economy is projected to grow, you put these three things together and it tells you that any country’s economy which has an increasing population and increasing middle class has to grow at this pace. The energy demand will be at least 2.5-3 times in the coming 5-7 years, which means we are already a power deficit country. 

Then you add the emerging needs and demands coming our way, this clearly says that from 5-7 years we are not even half a mark there. India probably needs 900GW of total power generation capacity by 2025 to really fulfil all its energy needs it has today. Most of this energy will come from where? Nuclear is a no-no, coal as we already see is declining, so, it is only renewable sources mostly solar, wind, hydro and biomass. Majorly solar and wind. Now, when we come to solar and wind, we have very actively engaged in this area. We have the highest market share in terms of PV string inverters, which are the solar inverters in India. 

When we talk about Electric mobility, Government is going big on this. Do you think a robust E-charging infrastructure has to be ensured before we talk about bringing electric vehicles in Indian roads and how bullish are you on this space?

If EV has to become a reality in India, you need a robust public charging infrastructure in the country otherwise nobody is going to buy an electric car and so far we do not see any electric public charging infrastructure in the country. The reason we do not see them is initially a lot of cars have been bought by the Government of India under ESL for Government use and they will mostly be charged at their campuses, residential areas or colonies. But, by 2020 many large global car companies will come to India. They already have plans being prepared. It is again chicken and egg, why will they come to India when there is no public charging infrastructure, which is one question. The second question is why will somebody invest in the public charging infrastructure if there are no cars?

In India being mostly an enterprise driven economy, we expect that by the second half of 2019, there will be many large Indian and International corporate houses that will begin to invest in this infrastructure because they will or are already having a discussion at the backend, this is number one point. Number two, if you look at other markets where EV has taken off very well, they have invested in their own EV charging infrastructure. 

What kind of investments you are looking at? If you could give me some numbers.

We already have made a commitment to invest $500 million in India in next 10 years and also generate employment for 20,000 people. In the first phase of investment, we are coming up with our fourth factory in Hosur, in Tamilnadu, spread over 120 acres of land. Phase 1 of this factory will be ready by March 2019. This will be done with about close to Rs. 317 Crores of investments in Phase 1. 

In coming 5 years we expect about Rs. 1200 Crores worth of investments, in this factory, in different phases, which will also include one SEZ (special economic zone). We are also constructing our R&D centre in Bangalore, we already have 2 R&D centres in Bangalore but we are building a very large facility for our R&D innovation centre. 

Currently we employ 240 R&D engineers in Bangalore but, we are scaling it up to our target of 2000 engineers by 2020. That is why we are building this large facility to outsource engineers and these engineers mostly work on product side which is high power, attraction repulsion EV charging and storage technologies, they will work on big data analytics, deep learning and machine learning.

How do you envision the future of our smart cities 5 years or 10 years down the line?

Unfortunately, our cities are built differently. For example- there are not enough parking facilities outside shopping malls or community markets which is why you see cars being parked on roads arbitrarily or when people build houses, they build fences outside their walls. The fundamentals of our cities wrong. Even if you look at smart cities, the initial ones that are coming up still have patchy plans and solutions, a lot better could have been done on that front though. 

But, I am happy that 100 smart cities are announced and 15 out of them are already taking shape and next 85 would probably take shape in a couple of years and if we have another progressive Government coming in to power, we will see this happening all the more. India needs smart cities where people can live where they work or can walk till their offices thereby reducing burden on roads, infrastructure, traffic and pollution, where everything is managed well. People need to know. Also, in our country safety is not considered an important aspect but it has to become a way of life for our citizens.