UL: Vibrant Opportunities For Players In Energy Space
September 20, 2018
OAJ: What are the different businesses in the energy segments looked by UL in India and how has been the experience so far?
UL caters to a wide array of sectors – power, renewable energy, life and health sciences, lighting, building and life safety technology, consumer technology and retail, to name a few.
In the solar field, UL was probably the very first organization to write a solar standard in the 1970s. With solar and wind energy solar and wind energy technologies proliferating at a rapid rate, UL has developed an advanced suite of end-to-end services to address the safety, quality and performance issues of these technologies. In the solar industry, UL caters to a wide range of stakeholders across the value chain, including owners, operators, developers, financiers, engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) insurers as well as manufacturers. We manage risk by providing technical information and data for energy yield assessments (EYA), technical due diligence and measurements and third-party inspection. Our flexible service portfolio covers needs that range from project planning and construction to ongoing operations and maintenance.
UL can thus help the Indian renewable energy sector adapt to the highest standards. Our laboratory was the first private laboratory in India accredited to test MNRE requirements for PV components and systems. We work with some of the most significant players in the PV industry.
OAJ: According to you, what are the business opportunities and risks currently in the Indian energy space?
Gupta :With India emerging as one of the top three countries worldwide in renewable energy, there are vibrant opportunities for a variety of players across the spectrum to become part of India’s transition to a greener and cleaner economy. The solar industry is particularly witnessing a high-level of consolidation, with players from FMCG to automotive companies entering the domain. The government is also keen to sustain the momentum by expanding into energy storage, exploring hybrid technologies and developing indigenous lithium capabilities to support e-mobility, further increasing access for new players to enter the market.
While these emerging developments will help achieve the twin goals of reducing carbon footprint and increasing availability and access to quality of power, there are several critical elements that need to be addressed.
Firstly, as solar and wind projects become increasingly grid connected, it would be advisable for the government to mandate Low Voltage Ride Through (LVRT) testing to ensure that no rooftop or ground mounted plant destabilizes the grid. The Central Electricity Authority is already working on grid code compliance to address this aspect.
Secondly, while India adds capacity at a rapid pace to meet targets, the industry must not ignore the performance and reliability aspects of renewable assets – after all, it is not merely giga watts but giga watt hours that matter. Hence, there should be a fine balance between regulating the industry to ensure compliance with quality and performance parameters and inhibiting growth. With the quality control order for solar products to be enforceable from August this year, the government has set the stage for the deployment of quality renewable power. The government is also planning to introduce further compliance requirements in a phased manner to increase the bankability of renewable projects.
Thirdly, while energy storage is evolving as a critical sector that will offset the uncertainty of renewable power, we need country-specific, system-level standards to address the safety and performance issues of energy storage technologies. It is heartening that the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) has taken lead in formulating standards for stationary electrical energy storage systems, making India the first country to do so.
OAJ: UL has known for building trust in the safety, security and sustainability of products since a long, what have been your strategies to promote the sustainability in the aggressive market?
Gupta :UL’s service offering for sustainability span across the interlinking sectors of renewable energy, LED lighting and energy efficient appliances. We offer customized testing services for research on and evaluation of new designs, as well as testing to determine whether products meet the qualification requirements for energy-saving incentive programs.
UL has taken the lead in establishing standards globally for LED industry. We employ sophisticated photometric testing equipment in our Gurugram Centre of Excellence to verify product performance using advanced testing procedures like lamp life, rapid cycle and photobiological safety test system. UL established the first LED laboratory in India in 2011, when the LED technology was still at a very nascent stage. We also worked closely with the BIS to set up the Indian standards for LED products.
For the white goods market, the Gurugram facility can evaluate the performance, energy efficiency and safety parameters through extensive testing and certification.
UL’s offerings are also geared to offset the detrimental effect indoor air pollution on human health. UL’s internationally renowned certification for indoor air quality (IAQ), known as GREENGUARD, tests indoor products for more than 16,000 volatile organic compounds (VOCs). This service has been available in India and some of the leading furniture and paint manufacturers in the country avail this certification.
OAJ - With the government’s push for alternative energy following the Paris climate summit to achieve the target by 2022, how has been Huntsman contributing in the initiative?
Gupta : As quality consciousness gains momentum in the country with the changing regulatory landscape, there is greater acceptability and appreciation of testing, inspection and certification companies like UL for their contribution in developing robust quality ecosystem in the country.
However, in India, we are still at an early stage of development in terms of building a safety culture. The pull must come from the consumers who have to demand safety and the push has to come from the manufacturers, industry bodies and regulators.
From the Indian standpoint, we completed 20 years of operations in the country in 2017. For more than a decade, we were focused on supporting Indian manufacturer access global markets. Over the last five years, our strategy has been ‘In India, for India’, where we are lending our expertise to create a robust standards ecosystem in the country through active engagement with a variety of stakeholders, including the government, regulators, manufacturers, industry bodies, academia and consumers.
There is certainly a growing awareness of safety across the value chain, but we still have a long way to go.
OAJ: We would request you to throw some light on your various expert solutions for the oil and gas industry?
Gupta :UL’s century old expertise in Oil and Gas is geared to keep people and sites safe from risks in this hazardous sector. UL helps manufacturers of products powered by alternative fuels, fuel cells, and gas and oil equipment meet relevant standards and regulatory requirements to gain market access around the globe. Oil and Gas has been a very important demand driver for UL’s building inspection services, contributing to 40% of business in the Building and Life Safety Technology division.
UL also has a long-standing partnership with the Oil Industry Safety Directorate (OISD), a regulatory and technical directorate in India. It was established in 1986 by the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas with an objective to oversee the fire and safety aspects in refineries through audits, standards and safety investigations. Apart from being part of OISD’s investigative committee, UL experts are also part of the Directorate’s technical committees, where they share their recommendations on safety and help with formulating relevant standards and updating existing organices.
OAJ: Could you brief us about the upcoming trends in the oil and gas industry?
Gupta :: India is embarking on an ambitious mission to expand local exploration in the oil and gas scot. Certainly, this is a welcome move to offset import dependence. However, from the safety perspective, there is a need to migrate to performance-based testing standards for equipment and fire suppression products to ensure robust fire prevention procedures are in place.
While the industry, through the OISD has proactively taken steps to heighten safety measures, in line with International standards, the next big step is the establishment of ERC (emergency response control centres, or are state-of-the-art emergency control for disasters to mitigate the damage).
OAJ: In 2017, UL entered in a joint venture with Saudi Arabia based GCC laboratories, could you please share some details about it and what is the scope of Renewable Energy in the global economies?
Gupta :: As announced by UL Middle East in September last year, with an aim to strengthen the renewable energy infrastructure in the region, UL entered into a joint venture with Saudi-based GCC Lab Company, an independent, start-up laboratory that serves the electrical equipment testing requirements including renewables in the GCC and neighbouring countries, which have ambitious renewable energy targets.
Based in Dammam, Saudi Arabia, the joint venture company offers a variety of services related to the renewable industry, such as pre-commissioning tests, construction monitoring services and product testing of solar PV modules, including accessories that comply with applicable standards including UL and IEC standards.
The partnership will also aim to capitalize on UL’s reputation as a leading safety science company in the region and on GCC Lab’s strength and mandate as part of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 initiative to diversify its economy.
It is anticipated that the joint venture will be well positioned to support those targets in the years to come.
OAJ: Could you please share your current largest investment as well as the future expansion plan in India?
Gupta :UL recently consolidated its north India operations and inaugurated an 80,000 sq. -ft. Centre of Excellence (CoE) in Gurugram. Replete with the latest and best in class equipment, UL’s Gurugram facility integrates our erstwhile operations in Manesar for the consumer technology and the appliances, HVAC/R and lighting businesses with the existing operations in Gurugram for the consumer and retail services (textiles, toys and softlines).
With the inclusion of this facility, UL now has over 180,000 square feet of laboratory and office space in the country.
With the rapid convergence of several technologies and products, there is a clear demand for easy access to cross-functional testing and engagement under one roof. For example, smart lighting manufacturers rely on both lighting and technology (eg. cybersecurity) experts to meet regulatory compliance and improve their products. The Gurugram CoE signifies the benefits that can be harnessed from integrating various capabilities.
UL is also in the process of doubling the capacity of our solar laboratory to meet the rising demand for testing in the wake of the quality control order for solar products mandated by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy.