India seems to be prepared to take the step into energy efficient technology for waste water treatment, observes Jan Olsen, Director, Aeration Competence Centre (ACC), Siemens (Denmark), talking to Sumantra Das.
Being a global player, how do you find India´s initiative on water sector?
India is an interesting market for us as it has a huge population and scarce water resources. If India continues to develop with the same pace, they have to look more into environmental solutions comprising forest, rivers and lakes. From an outsider´s view, in India, environment is a much more important agenda today than ever before. We have been here for two years now focusing on wastewater treatment and we have seen an increased focus of the policy makers. In India, the idea and initiative towards implementation is there but commit¡ment will take more time. We have a lot of projects coming up and the decision process is not as fast here as we are used to on a global basis.
What are the major sales issues that you face here in India?
In India, we have various water projects with the government. The main issue is to fix strict energy efficiency rules within the tender to force the marketplace to buy and install the best long term equipment. Lifecycle calculations are not as common in tender phases as they should be. The reliability and lifetime of a piece of equipment is sometimes also not seen as too important. Price still rules; not a comprehensive comparison of the available technologies. But we see a change to this spreading.
What kind of regulations are you looking at? What are the major differences you experience in India in terms of using technologies in water management?
We have developed this industry since the 1970s and we have more than 40 years of experience. In the beginning, we worked in Germany, other European countries and the US. In the US, the government put a lot of emphasis on energy consumption by penalizing power commitments given by equipment suppliers in the tender phase. In the long run, this kind of tender regulation will create an environmental friendly selection of equipment and subsequently effective waste water treatment.
Has India made progress in pricing urban consumption of water?
I can say that India has 16 per cent of the global population and access to only 4 per cent of the water. If companies are using water, they have to pay for it. Perhaps legislation and higher prices on water could be one way to do this.
What are the major concern areas?
Policy and awareness. It is important that youngsters in school understand that the earth, and the country they are living in, is not theirs but something we all have to pass on to our kids. If one mistreats the environment today someone else has to deal with it later. So, start with awareness in school, something which should be done from government´s side. Besides, legislation on poll¡u¡tion in water and focus on taxes on electricity (energy) is also required. The operators should be forced to look into lifetime cost of their plants. If one is using energy consuming plant, then he should pay for that upfront.
Do you think private players are not keen on water projects as scale of business is missing in India?
Public-private partnership (PPP) is a good initiative to have the combination of government and private interests. Private players want to earn money and governments needs to have a clean environment. In this context there are plenty of new environmental wastewater projects in the pipeline.
Siemens Water Technologies is one of the major global players in the water sector having presence in Australia, Canada, Germany, Italy, Singapore, UK and in the US. The company mainly focuses in waste reduction, energy and process efficiency, desalination and water reuse.