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Change regulations to create mechanism for innovation: Tata

India’s energy sector is facing problems on account of regulations on pushing new sustainable technologies which need to be changed in step with changing times and technology, industrialist Ratan Tata said.

Ratan Tata

“As far as regulation for pushing new technology, we have to be sympathetic to enormity of the problems that exist in energy (sector) and the cost. Both will not happen over night.

But we have to create a momentum in this area and then awareness. Is there a mechanism that encourages (innovation),” Tata told reporters here at a Tata Trusts – UCLA Global Forum on ‘Innovating for a Sustainable Energy Future’.

The chairman of Tata Trusts further said: “There is no one size fits all. The problems in India are different from problems (elsewhere). Both the problems and solution that exist in India are different. There has been a tendency to go (to other countries) and buy technology.”

Echoing similar views, Chancellor Gene Block of UCLA (University of California, Log Angeles) said that India needs an eco-system to encourage technologies in sustainable energy for pushing its ambitious renewable energy targets.

India is aiming at generating 175 GW of renewable energy from sources like solar, wind, small hydro and bio-mass by 2022. It requires an investment about USD 200 billion.

Tata said: “The regulation certainly helps in protecting the consumer. At the same time I think what happens in India is that regulation is created in the 1938 or 1945 and does not get upgraded or modernised…to deal with changing times, technologies.

“So I often say that even the Vatican which is very static in terms of rules to change, is willing to look at change… may be regulation need to take that (example).”

Tata also expressed concern about treating capability of private sector, particularly startups, as secondary over the public sector as India followed the Soviet Model for a long time, when PSUs produce almost everything.

“Their capabilities should not be considered secondary to them (public sector). Some of that mind set still remains. It continues to be in some quarters. The country has a private sector. Country has new sector that is start-up sector. But that is limited to some sectors,” he said.

About his interest in startups, Tata said: “After I retired, I thought, I ought to go into an areas of interest to work with young people without the constraint of having conflicting interest because Tatas were in so many sectors. I could not do even private investment at that time.”

Asked about the areas of his interest in startups, he said: “There are no patterns or sector. It is purely intuitive. It is my own personal funds. There is a lot of interest in the media. But it is my money and I am putting it on risk.”

On the effect of the slump in oil prices in international on green energy initiatives, he said, “It is cyclic. It happens. But energy efficiency is confined to generation but consumption also like in the case of LED bulbs and efficient cars. It is holistic challenge.”

On the differential (subsidised) prices of green technologies for countries like India, he said: “You have be fair with all when go to market as a commercial company.”

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