Hubs of Green Energy: Indian ports prepare to future-proof themselves

Krishna B. Kotak, Chairman, J.M. Baxi Group

The last decade has seen a continuous evolution in global trade. This has led to the creation of a global supply chain for trade and transport. An automobile sold in the US or South America might consist of an engi­ne built in India, electronics from Korea, the electrical system manufactured in the Europe­an Union and tyres made in Malaysia. Such de­di­cated supply chains have led to significant infrastructural developments across different regions worldwide.

The last decade has also seen India growing into a $3.75 trillion economy to become the fifth largest economy in the world. Specifically, in the port sector, India has almost tripled its capacity. This growth trend has resulted in India embracing the realities of efficient global trade. Larger ships across all types of shipping, such as containers, dry bulk, liquid tankers, gas carriers and car carriers, have to be en­ab­led and handled at ports. The new ports and terminals have achieved the required draughts to enable the same. The technology and equipment needed to enable the productivity required for large ships have also been increasingly deployed.

The government and various regulatory authorities have led from the front, ensuring digitalisation and electronic connectivity for all communication and actions. India is future-proofed.

One of the two major upcoming trends is the diversification of supply chains to make them more robust and less dependent on only one or two sources. This presents a once-in-a-century opportunity for India. The next wave of opportunities will need a foundation of clean, green manufacturing. Across the entire supply chain, carbon emissions and green gas emissions are going to be seriously scrutinised. We will, therefore, transit from a relatively heavy fossil fuel-driven port and transport sector to a green energy-driven port and transport sector.

Indian ports are preparing themselves to become hubs of green energy. Port and terminal operators are gearing up to produce green energy within ports to ensure that Indian ports are not only zero carbon emitting ports handling all commodities, but are also in a position to supply green, clean power to ships as required by the International Maritime Organization. The government has taken far-sighted and far-reaching de­ci­sions and is designing various policies to en­able this dramatic transformation. The next few years should see Indian ports ranked among the top five, if not top three, of the most future-proo­fed ports in the world. These developments are seeing large-scale, multi-billion-dollar investments in the port sector to ensure global competitiveness of Indian trade.

The sheer scale and size of India’s vibrant, growing economy and population will demand ports and transport infrastructure that is best in class and has the highest standard in terms of scope, scale and size.

A key upcoming trend is the diversification of supply chains to make them more robust and less dependent on only one or two sources. This presents a once-in-a-century opportunity for India.

The path-breaking production-linked incentive schemes targeted at specific industries such as electronics and textiles are beginning to see success and growth. The impressive increa­se in smartphone exports signifies an advancement up the value chain of manufacturing, whi­ch is one of the key steps for economic growth. Simply put, from iron ore to steel production to engineering goods, there is a growth in the manufacturing value chain. Similar progress in agriculture and food processing will lead to tremendous growth and progress in the Indian economy. A significant area of challenge and opportunity pertains to ship owning and ship operating. In order to provide support to Indian trade and industry, it is necessary to have robust and adequate shipping capacity. Compared to other maritime trade nations such as Germany, France, Japan, China and the US, India lacks adequate flagged shipping capability, which not only hampers the capability of our merchandise trade but also compromises the competitiveness of Indian exporters and manufacturers.

All modes of transport such as ships, roa­ds, vehicles and rail rolling equipment are un­dergoing major transitions and transformatio­ns. The propulsion methods, engines and fuels are likely to become unrecognisable. Both In­dia and the world are on the cusp of a dramatic change. The successful companies and co­untries will be those that can embrace the change and also lead this change.

India is truly at an interesting and enticing point of time in its history. The next few years will see India taking confident strides, transitioning from the present to the future. The J.M. Baxi Group is fortunate to be an active participant in this transition. The group, in alignment with India’s progress, will continue to transform and be resilient, robust and relevant in this transformation journey.