Indian IT companies are among the best in the world and they are now planning to implement a highly sustainable plan of growth. Companies like Infosys and Wipro are set to implement measures to increase consumption of renewable energy, improve energy efficiency, and reduce carbon footprint.
Wipro, India’s second largest IT firm by revenue, has increased the share of electricity from renewable energy considerably over the last few years. Over the last three years, the consumption of power generated from renewable energy sources has increased from 25 million kWh to 65 million kWh. This year the share of ‘green electricity’ has reached 21%. The company plans to procure 160 million kWh of green electricity by 2015.
The company has taken several other measures to reduce its power consumption. It has extensively implemented energy efficiency measures across its infrastructure as a result, 18 of its buildings are certified under the international LEED standards. It is operating 800 virtual servers on 120 physical servers that has resulted in savings of 3 million kWh of electricity annually which is equivalent to savings of 2,700 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions every year.
To reduce carbon footprint, the company has cut down on travel which contributes about 20% of its total emissions. The company has switched to video conferencing and remote collaboration to increase efficiency.
Infosys has even more ambitious targets. The company plans to become carbon neutral by 2017 by offsetting its carbon emissions. It plans to reduce its per capita energy consumption and source all electricity from renewable energy sources by 2017.
The company has implemented several energy efficiency measures at its campuses, these include insulated walls, glazed windows to increase daylight and reduce demand for artificial lighting. It has also set up sensors to monitor real-time data on energy consumption.
Both the companies are based in the southern region of India which has been suffering from very high power deficit for several years. Between April 2012 and January 2013 the supply of electricity to the southern states lagged the demand by over 15%. Due to the kind of operations these companies run, they require an uninterrupted supply of electricity. This is forced these companies to rely heavily on diesel to generate electricity in-house. Increased use of diesel to generate electricity is not only economically unsustainable but leads to high amounts of carbon dioxide emissions.
As a result, both the companies have set up solar PV projects to partially replace electricity from diesel generators. Additionally, the companies are also facing Renewable Purchase Obligation (RPO) which requires them to source a set minimum percentage of their total electricity consumption from renewable energy sources.
One of the options to fulfil this obligation is to purchase green electricity from the state utilities. The problem is that these utilities themselves lack substantial renewable energy infrastructure that can generate enough electricity to met the demand of the industry. With the cost of solar power in India declining rapidly, these companies have decided to set up in-house solar power projects. This is beneficial in several ways — it substantially cuts the transmission losses, the state governments exempt them from paying several duties associated with electricity supply, it reduces their power bills (industries in India pay the highest electricity tariffs among all consumer categories), and helps them fulfil their corporate social responsibilities as well.
Mridul Chadha currently works as Head-News & Data at Climate Connect Limited, a market research and analytics firm in the renewable energy and carbon markets domain. He earned his Master’s in Technology degree from The Energy & Resources Institute in Renewable Energy Engineering and Management. He also has a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Engineering. Mridul has a keen interest in renewable energy sector in India and emerging carbon markets like China and Australia.