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Green and Clean is the Way to the Future
MS Unnikrishnan Managing Director Thermax Industries Green portfolio is a novel concept and fairly new for the Indian market, what prompted Thermax to start this drive in India?
Over the years, Thermax evolved as a company providing systems and solutions in the areas of energy and environment. It is these two areas that have become critically relevant in the recent decades, thanks to the larger issues of climate change and the depleting resources of the planet. There are also government regulations-norms for emission and water pollution, focus on energy efficiency and solar thermal applications, curbs on drawing ground water and so on-that are also driving the new initiatives. So, seen from these wider perspectives, instead of "starting" a movement, let us say we have extensive industry experience, and we are positioned to support industry in their shift towards greener options.
technologies and minimise their impact stand to benefit in terms of community goodwill and increased public acceptance of their goods and services. It saves them the 'cost' of damage controls and expensive public relations programmes.

What are the major issues that Thermax had to address particularly in terms of mindsets in the Indian market in spite of the fact that industry is very much aware about the need to go green?
Once companies realise that long-term value creation is more important than short-term profits, adopting green technologies and practices become easier and more desirable. There is also the need to see cost from the perspective of the lifetime cost of a system or equipment. And thirdly, the important realisation that the business of business is not just business, but also to contribute to community welfare can also help in changing mindsets.

What strategy have you adop-ted to hasten the drive towards building green portfolio amongst the small and medium scale industries in small industrial pockets in the country?
We have energy products like packaged boilers and standard products such as water treatment and waste management systems for environment businesses that are used by small to medium scale industries. Energy audits that we execute are helping such units to improve their operations.

Which are the major issues and challenges that need to be addressed at various stages of execution of the projects, especially in case of old manufacturing units since many of them continue to run on obsolete technologies?
Adoption of green technology is easier in case of greenfield projects. System planning can take care of the variables and can also include economies of scale. However, for existing projects too, it is possible to extend the life of utilities – boilers, air pollution control or water and wastewater treatment systems – to adapt them to today’s framework of energy-environment regulations and efficient operations. Industry has to balance the needs of one-time costs with return on investments and green operations in clean technology system conversions like those of cooling and heating systems to accommodate renewable fuels (biomass / waste heat / solar energy).

Chemical manufacturing is en-ergy intensive sector and highly water consuming. What is the scope of opportunities available in these sectors in the fast growing Indian market?
Yes, there is tremendous potential for chemical units to bring in creative changes on both energy and environment fronts. By enlisting the help of green technologies, they can improve their bottomlines and also minimise their adverse impact on habitats.

What challenges do you foresee for Indian technology suppliers in this field from the foreign players and also what foreign players will have to face in the Indian market
In today’s integrated world, effective technologies will find acceptance, irrespective of geographies or countries of origin. Already many companies including Thermax are forming technology partnerships with foreign players. As foreign technology majors need local help to understand indigenous markets and specific industry requirements, such partnerships work out as win-win for both.

Thermax has entered into various agreements during this fiscal. What new technologies does Thermax plan to offer to the Indian market?
We have entered into wastewater treatment technologies with GE and Werhle. We also have formed joint ventures with Babcock & Wilcox and SPX Corporation, respectively for supercritical boiler technology and for emission control systems. Finally, we also have formed a tie-up with Lambion of Germany for biomass based combustion systems. Right now we are focusing on integrating them to our various customer offerings.

Tell us about the future plans of Thermax and the new fields the company plans to enter.
We are focusing on renewable energy with the aim of furthering strengthening our green portfolio. With biomass and waste heat based systems, we already have done good work in this area. Recently, Thermax strengthened its green portfolio with solar thermal systems for cooling and heating. Next few years will see further growth in this area. We can also contribute to the development of geothermal energy in the country.
Thermax has already signed an MOU with a company in Iceland that specialises in drilling operations for harnessing geothermal energy. As in the case of solar energy, we are confident of using this form of energy also for heating, cooling and power requirements.