"Energy productivity is the dominant form of mitigation that a corporation can contribute to": Mahindra Group

Reading time: 5 minutes
20 April 2017

Mahindra & Mahindra is India’s largest tractor and utility vehicle manufacturer and through investments in technology and innovation, the company has a growing global presence. With a strong focus on sustainability, Mahindra & Mahindra was the first Indian Company to sign up to EP100, committing to double corporate energy productivity. We interviewed Anirban Ghosh, CSO, Mahindra Group, to find out more.

Why did Mahindra & Mahindra join EP100?

Climate change is real. And managing carbon is mandatory to mitigate climate change. Corporations around the world need to reduce emissions if the goal of keeping global warming “well below” 2 degrees Celsius is to be met. Improving energy productivity is the dominant form of mitigation that a corporation can contribute to. Hence we chose to join the EP100 program and make a firm commitment.

Overall, energy productivity impacts people, planet and profit positively and is thus a sustainable initiative.

The up-front investment of labor and capital necessary to radically improve energy productivity can be a deterrent for some business leaders and financial strategists. Can you help explain the business case for those who are still considering whether to proceed?

When buildings and factories were constructed, optimizing energy consumption was rarely a design criterion. This means that there are many opportunities to invest in energy productivity projects in existing buildings and factories with very high returns. Recent developments in technologies have helped in making this a reality.

Our automotive and farm equipment businesses have found that they can replace all their lights with LED and magnetic induction lighting with a payback period of less than 15 months and returns that are higher than that generated by the core business.

At this time, every business should have multiple opportunities to get high returns from investments in energy productivity and the initial investment should not be a deterrent. If availability of funds is a problem, then businesses can pay from savings with the investment being made by the service provider.

What are the key steps in Mahindra & Mahindra’s plan to double energy productivity as a part of the EP100 program?

The key steps for enhancing energy productivity include adoption of a range of technologies for energy efficient lighting; energy efficient air-conditioning; energy efficient motors and appliances; re-engineering of the business process to reduce energy demand; heat recovery projects to use waste heat productively; and construction to reduce the need for energy.

Interventions like these have led to our being able to produce a vehicle with 25% less energy compared to five years ago.

As industry leaders work on their own operations, there is increasing attention to sustainability in supply chains. Does Mahindra & Mahindra help their suppliers improve their energy productivity?

Energy productivity of suppliers is critical for reducing emissions and cost. Mahindra engages extensively with its suppliers to make this happen. This program includes capacity building, best practice sharing, goal setting, audits, technology exposure and recognition of work done by the channel partner.

This helps Mahindra in being a responsible Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) and taking sustainability beyond its own boundary.

Why was it important for Mahindra & Mahindra to set an energy productivity target?

Whatever gets measured gets done. Most corporations are trying to increase energy productivity. Setting a goal gives a sense of purpose and ensures that the corporation does not lose steam in the crusade.

Are there any new technologies that you are deploying in your facilities?

Mahindra is open to using any feasible new technology in the space of energy productivity. Some examples that we have looked at are LED lighting, magnetic induction lighting, radiant cooling, geothermal cooling, heat pumps and magnetic levitation technology in air conditioning.  

What advice would you give another company with a large energy footprint?

Be the most energy efficient producer. Using more energy than required is literally like burning money and environmental resources.

And finally, could you share with us what you are most optimistic about in the world of sustainability and energy productivity in the coming years?

We believe that as corporations make an effort to enhance energy productivity there will be innovation and development of new technologies that will change the way we live and work. We are optimistic that new technologies will help us keep average temperature rise below 2 degrees.

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