Our journey towards 100% renewable electricity: Infosys leading on corporate sourcing in India

Reading time: 6 minutes
23 August 2017

Leading Indian IT company Infosys Limited has an ambitious goal of reaching 100% renewable electricity. Here, Rakesh Bohra, Sr. Associate Manager – Green initiatives & Infrastructures, shares the company’s progress and experiences.

As the global population continues to rise, many countries are dependent on fossil fuel imports to meet their soaring energy needs. But this is steadily changing. Businesses and industry – alongside Government – have a vital role to play in addressing environmental issues and climate change by adding much more renewable energy to the mix.

Demonstrating leadership

Infosys recognized long ago that it is paradoxical to have economic growth without addressing environmental issues. Infosys voluntarily became one of the first companies in the world to set a goal of becoming carbon neutral, reducing per capita electricity consumption by 50% (against 2008 baseline year), and sourcing 100% renewable power. As a responsible and environmentally conscious organization, we were also the first corporate in India to join RE100.

This fiscal year, we have achieved our per capita electricity reduction target and made significant progress on renewable energy, considering the challenges posed by government policies and open access regulations. Our total electricity consumption in the year 2016-17 was 267 gigawatt hours 44.6% is from renewable energy sources, including ~15 megawatts (MW) capacity of solar photovoltaic (PV) installations at different locations. We aim to source 50% of our electricity requirements through renewable energy before the end of the year and we remain committed to achieving all our clean energy and climate-related targets as quickly as possible.

We have collaborated with renowned research institutes and laboratories in India and abroad including the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, the Solar Energy Research Institute for India and the United States and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, to enhance the performance and quality of our in-house solar PV installations. This fiscal year we are also planning to set up a 30-40 MW solar PV project in Karnataka State, and we aim to increase our installed solar PV capacity significantly for captive usage in the near future.

The business case

100% renewable energy is technically possible, economically viable, socially imperative and environmentally inevitable.

In our experience, going with renewable electricity makes good sense; firstly, it is economically feasible to set up your own renewable power generation facility, and secondly it reduces carbon footprints thereby allowing you to brand your social environmentally conscious image in market.

If planned consciously, today, renewables have a very attractive payback period with the product life of most of the equipment being more than 20 years. They also provide lower operating costs in the long run, eliminating the associated risks of escalating energy prices and unstable power supply.

Infosys Hyderabad Grid Connected 6.6 MW solar PV plant

As the cost of renewable energy is falling and rapidly attaining parity with grid power, it makes commercial sense for corporates to go 100% on renewables. With advancement in technology and considering economy of scale, the cost of storage systems is also going to fall significantly in the coming years, thus making renewable electricity a more attractive and reliable energy solution.

The mechanisms we use to progress our RE100 commitment include buying green power from open access and at the same time setting up our own solar PV plants. But to get many more companies transitioning to 100% renewable power, we also need to develop a mature market for renewable energy procurement and trading.

Overcoming challenges

In India, we have challenges in our policy framework that make it harder for companies to pursue ambitious goals like RE100. For example, Uniform Central open access policy must be carefully planned, otherwise different open access charges and loss factors make it very difficult for corporates with operational presence in different states to be successful in achieving 100% renewable electricity.

Banking and wheeling charges and transmission losses, and the absence of a net energy settlement/scheduling mechanism is also a big challenge. Favorable policies such as exemption in wheeling and banking charges, cross subsidies, and access to withdraw banked green power anytime during the 24 hours of business operations should be translated across all states to enable larger adoption of renewable energy for big corporates.

I firmly believe that initiatives like RE100 must be embraced by governments of all countries. There are considerable efforts from the Indian government to include renewable energy in mainstream power generation sources, but a specific policy around corporate sourcing of renewables needs to be developed to persuade more corporates to invest. India has a target of achieving 175 gigawatts (GW) of renewable energy capacity by 2022, so such a clear policy framework for corporates will add great value in achieving this national goal.

With tremendous potential for renewables in India, the market needs pioneers to demonstrate its viability. For Infosys, it’s not just important for the company to be green; we want to lead the way in creating a clean energy future for the development of society as a whole. We are constantly sharing our best practices with the industry and wider communities to demonstrate that these interventions make a strong business case for others to emulate.

Infosys shared its experiences on renewable power at the RE100 roundtable ‘Scaling corporate renewable electricity use in India’; an official side event of the Business & Climate Summit, on August 30, New Delhi.

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