Monday, December 20, 2010

Green consulting: The way to go

We at IIM Ahmedabad's Consulting Club have started a new initiative on this blog where we will regularly publish articles contributed by corporates working in the area of consulting. We hope that these insights from the professional world will be interesting for our readers and will help contribute towards making this blog an active forum for students and professionals related to the world of consulting.

The first article in this series has been contributed by Gensol Consultants Pvt. Ltd. who have been working in the area of Green Energy Consulting for about three years. 

Talk about green jobs and the image of men operating wind-turbines, solar energy plants or environmental activists lobbying for water or forests conservation conjures up in the mind. Little does one wonder about people advising the corporates to lower their carbon emissions--called carbon footprint--through innovative strategies or helping the government devise policy initiatives aimed at mitigating climate change. But the landscape of green jobs has undergone a rapid transition to include advisory jobs that are aimed at transforming existing work practices with due regard to the mother nature.

The basic premise on which the consulting business operates is the expert advice on a certain subject, whose inherent complexity could impair the ability to achieve the objectives of the business in the absence of an expert guidance. In this vein, a consultancy that advises on the best possible strategies to low carbon emissions would require a deep acumen of the policy inputs specific to climate change and its mitigation. Given the kind of opportunities presented by the climate change mitigation and adaptation measures around the world, the role of a green consultant is a promising field to make a career in.

It is the passion to harness the huge potential of this business that Gensol Consultants Private Limited (GCPL) set itself on a path to become one of the big names in the green advisory business, to a point that when you say 'green consulting', Gensol's name quickly makes waves in your mind. Notably, Gensol had made a humble beginning in the year 2007. And during this short span of three years, Gensol has already etched a strong presence in the global CDM market, by clawing more than 25% share of CDM advisory market in India, with more than 350 clients under its kitty.

While it is true that CDM advisory was the primary business for GCPL, the heightened sense of responsibility towards preserving environment the world-over has certainly presented opportunities to spread our wings even wider. To put this context, it would be notable that developing nations have fashioned a very mature response to the problem of climate change and they are time after time giving out policy responses to this important issue. For example, with a view to emerge as a low carbon economy, India had released its first National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC), in June 2008, outlining existing and future policies and programs addressing climate mitigation and adaptation. Under this Plan, eight national missions have been the identified, namely the National Solar Mission, the National Mission for Enhanced Energy Efficiency, National Mission for Enhanced Energy Efficiency, National Mission on Sustainable Habitat, National Water Mission, National Mission for Sustaining the Himalayan Ecosystem, National Mission for a Green India, National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture and the National Mission on Strategic Knowledge for Climate Change. Importantly, the solar mission seeks to add 20,000 MW of solar-based generation capacity by 2022, the energy efficiency mission aims to yield savings of 10,000 MW by 2012, the sustainable habitat is intent upon promoting energy efficiency as a core component of urban planning and the water mission has set a goal of a 20% improvement in water use efficiency through pricing and other measures.

Meanwhile, goals under the green India plan include afforestation of 6 million hectares of degraded forest lands and expanding forest cover from 23% to 33% of India’s territory, the sustainable agriculture plan aims to support climate adaptation in agriculture, while the sustainable Himalayan Ecosystem scheme aims to conserve biodiversity, forest cover, and other ecological values in the Himalayan region, and the mission on strategic knowledge for climate change envisages a better understanding of climate science, impacts and its  challenges.

While a lot of green consulting activity has already been done while framing this policy, the path of implementation unveils a much more lofty scale of opportunities for us to grab. Each mission embodies a vast gamut of business potential, in light of the huge scale of activity the country has tounfold in order to achieve its  dual aim of inclusive growth and a better environmental standing. For example, the solar mission is a great platform to improve the business potential since solar power generation is still in a nascent stage and requires a lot of desk as well as field research to find a site that is suitable for the installation of the solar panels. Given the fact that solar power generation is a capital-intensive business, the role of a consultant cannot be left without attention. Then again, the Green India mission is another potential area where Gensol is eyeing a big game, given that forestry carbon projects have always been on the agenda of the international climate change summits. The role of forests as stocks of carbon has been an area of heated discussion in light of the fact that they are non-permanent sinks of carbon and, therefore, require suitable forestry models to maximize revenues--another potential area of green consulting. Similarly, other missions also present a bunch of business opportunities for Gensol as a green consultant.

Besides, there are numerous avenues where the consulting business could be expanded. A stellar example in the Indian context would be the renewable energy certificates (REC) mechanism, which a market-based instrument to promote renewable energy power. Under this scheme, the power generating companies would be required to generate a certain percentage of the total electricity consumption in their area--called renewable purchase obligation (RPO)-- from renewable energy sources, like wind, solar, biomass, among others. The existing disparity in the renewable energy sources across the country would allow these companies to purchase these certificates from the energy exchanges in order to meet their RPO targets. It is estimated that the REC market is worth more than Rs. 14,000 crore, which further enhances the scope of our business. A similar budding opportunity is the energy saving certificates (ESC) scheme, under the national energy efficiency plan, under which, the units of energy saved could be tradable in a similar operational framework, whereas Green IT and Green logistics remain robust candidates on our business radar. Not only this, Gensol has carved out its global expansion plans, with its maiden overseas venture being the U.K's Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) program, which is a U.K-specific version of the global carbon trading market. Gensol hopes to grab a fair share of this market, by helping the corporates cut costs, make money and improve their environmental standing.

In this background, it might be apropos to say that Gensol is well on the path of its vision to become a 360o carbon solutions provider, with minute focus on 'green and the shades of green'.

Credit: Mr. Anmol Singh Jaggi, Director, Gensol Consultants
             Ms. Tisha Dwivedi, Gensol Consultants

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