Outsmarting Fund Managers

The 31st January issue is again a great one. While four of the stocks you covered for analysis...

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A Correction

Your cover story of 31st January has a box item on ‘The Methodology’ (p33). In the last para,...

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Green energy talk yet to translate into figures

New survey finds little improvement in employment trends in the area of environment conservation and responsible energy utilisation

The year 2010 was designated by the United Nations as the International Year of Biodiversity. The year was launched with the Copenhagen summit. The 40th Earth Day in April coincided with the World People’s Conference on Climate Change in Bolivia. Last week, world representatives met in Cancun to take the campaign to save Planet Earth forward.

There has been much emphasis on conservation of the environment; most importantly the responsible use of energy. However, despite the tremendous interest and promise of activity generated in this direction, there has been surprisingly very little employment created in this connection.

According to the Ma Foi Randstad Employment Trends Survey 2010, India created 7.39 lakh jobs between January and September, but the energy sector did not perform well, registering a small increase of 0.64% over the last quarter.

“We were surprised with the results,” admits E Balaji, director and president of Ma Foi Randstad. “India has gone back to hiring, and the economy is recovering. There was such hype about the energy sector and everyone was expecting an expansion. But then, we saw that most of these projects have either failed to take off, got stalled, or have remained at the blueprint stage.”

Indeed, every foreign leader—from Obama to Sarkozy—visiting the country, talked about collaboration to develop energy projects. The government and several experts too have been vocal, at every climate/environmental convention, about new green technologies. But this has not translated into visible initiatives, much less job creation.

State governments have sanctioned power plants over the last few years, to bridge the demand-supply gap. Research reports, however, have indicated that there could be a fall in power demand. Moneylife has reported that there was a decline in power generation in November, according to the Central Electricity Authority (CEA). Authoritative agencies expect power supply to rise and reduce the deficit in the coming months, while merchant power rates reduce.

An IDFC Securities report says that in November “NTPC’s generation grew by 2.7% y-o-y, but fell 9% m-o-m, due to a sharp 23.6% m-o-m fall in gas-based generation; PLF (plant load factor) of NTPC thermal plants for November 2010 was 85% compared to 89% in November 2009 and 88.6% in October 2010. Among private power producers, the highest fall was seen in the case of Jaiprakash Power’s Baspa and Vishnuprayag plants (-47.8% m-o-m). GVK’s Jegurupadu and Gautami power plants both reported a sharp fall in generation on year-on-year and month-on-month basis.”
But the future for efficient energy generation and utilisation may not be so bleak.

Mr Balaji explained that many corporates are showing interest in this area, especially green energy, so the activity level and scope will increase. “This quarter, the sector will perform better,” he said, “and we must not forget that power is a long-term thing.” But it would require smart regulatory norms and incentives from the government to allow the sector grow to its full potential, he said. 

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