Primer to Cleantech Internship

I always knew that I would do my compulsory summer internship with a dynamic organization and not necessarily in an MNC. After a lot of research, applications, e-mails and telephonic conversations I decided to devote my summer with Greenway Ecodevelopment in Navi Mumbai.

The internship experience had everything that one expects. Challenging projects, flexible work environment and, perks and incentives. Greenway Ecodevelopment Pvt. Ltd. is a startup with primary focus on CDM advisory, carbon footprint, training services and, eco-friendly and sustainable project development. The founders of the company validate their pedigree. Ankit Mathur is an IIM Ahmedabad alumnus, while Neha Juneja has done her MBA from FMS Delhi. Ankit and Neha also have engineering degrees from Delhi Technological University (Formerly Delhi College of Engineering).

The above company description does no justice to the kind of projects Greenway handles, apparently. In other words, after explaining what greenway does by paraphrasing the above company details people at the other side of conversation would ask, “Oh! I see, but what exactly Greenway does? ” . In reply, I used to say, “Carbon trading, carbon finance, environment-friendly technologies and services”. This would usually be followed by another query, “What the hell is carbon-trading?” . Carbon trading covers a wide range of mechanisms which help in curbing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions which would have taken place in a business-as-usual scenario. Business-as-Usual is a term used for commercial ventures and projects which don’t consider emissions and focus on maximizing earnings. Business-as-Usual in most cases leads to degradation of environment with harmful greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions leading to global warming and ultimately fueling climate change.

The debate about climate change is another agenda but carbon trading mechanisms are like insurance policies in which you invest for the untoward incidents that might take place in future.

Carbon emissions is a term collectively used for all types of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. There are two types of carbon markets, voluntary and mandatory. The voluntary carbon markets are still in their infant stages, although the carbon market driven by Kyoto protocol has become a boon for emerging economies like China, India and Latin America through a mechanism known as clean development mechanism (CDM).

The clean development mechanism, one of the mechanisms defined in the Kyoto Protocol allows emission-reduction projects in developing countries (non-Annex I Parties). Emission reduction of one ton of carbon dioxide equivalent earns 1 certified emission reduction (CER) credit. CERs can be traded and sold, and used by industrialized countries (Annex I Parties) or companies with emission targets to meet a part of their targets under the Kyoto Protocol.

CDM provides developing countries opportunity to implement projects which are less carbon intensive and also avail monetary support from developed countries. Annex I parties are developed countries. Annex I countries which have ratified the Kyoto Protocol, have to reduce their emission levels of greenhouse gasses to targets that are mainly set below their 1990 levels.

However, it is very difficult for the developed nations to achieve such a herculean target at the cost of meeting its current demands. To facilitate their economic and industrial sustainability, they can emit GHGs by buying equivalent emission credits from various carbon trading mechanisms. Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) is one of the mechanisms, and is hugely popular because of its scalability, applicability and the benefits which can be shared mutually between non-Annex and Annex parties.

Emission reduction = Baseline emissions - Project emissions – Leakage

Emission reduction achieved by the project depends primarily on the baseline emissions offset, project emission and the leakage emissions outside the project boundary.

Baseline emission is the emission level that would take place in absence of the project activity. The project activity also emits some amount of GHGs, which is referred to as Project emissions which must be subtracted from the baseline emissions. Emission changes outside the project boundary, due to the project, not under control of the project participants is known as the Leakage. The tons of carbon dioxide equivalents which are calculated after subtracting “Project emissions” and “Leakage” from “Baseline emissions” is equal to the number of CERs (carbon credits) earned.

The basic steps include choosing a suitable methodology or suggesting a new methodology, determining the baseline emission and proving additionality. A CDM project activity is additional if anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gasses are reduced below those that would have occurred in the absence of the registered CDM project activity. Additionality may be financial, technical, institutional, etc.
The above details are incorporated in the Project Design Document (PDD). It is submitted to “Designated operational entity” (DOE) for validation, and “Designated National Authority” (DNA) for host country approval. After host country approval and validation, the PDD is forwarded to CDM Executive Board (EB) for project registration.

The EB after registering the project issues CERs (carbon credits) which can be traded in carbon markets. The value of 1 CER varies from € 8-12.
CDM Projects depend on future carbon credits for availing loan; it can also use the revenue from selling the credits for operation and maintenance, etc.

This is just about carbon trading, and also explains only CDM-project cycle. Greenway Ecodevelopment deals with much more than this. Greenway is a cleantech company. It is a startup, run by vibrant professionals. Greenway is also a consultancy firm which is going to have immense social impact. Speaking about social impact, Greenway would transform the lives of people by implementation and financing of 14,000 household biogas units in Yavatmal district under the CDM route. This is one of the first projects of its kind.

The think-tank of Greenway lives in a typical startup environment which is enviable. I will always relish the chance given to me by them for experiencing it firsthand. Everyone contributes invaluably, even their cute pet dog named Primer. Yes, the dog’s name is the title reference of the post.

More to follow about cleantech, internship, Primer, Mumbai and a lot more in subsequent posts.