Articles | Sustainability

Sustainability and Solar …

Published: November 26, 2022

    50 percent renewable energy across own operations

Traditionally, India is known for its rich legacy in textiles. Cotton textiles is one of the key traded commodities. Also, the silk industry propelled India into the international trade market. It was one of the driving forces that has etched the country’s name in the global clothing and apparel map. 

According to IBEF, the Indian textile and apparel industry is expected to grow at 10% CAGR from 2019-20 to reach $ 190 billion by 2025-26. India has a 4% share of the global trade in textiles and apparel. A sizable segment of the textile industry concentrates on exports. The numbers back their claim. In FY22, India’s textile and apparel exports (including handicrafts) stood at $ 44.4 billion—an impressive 41% YoY increase. 

This energy-intensive industry has deep roots and is spread across the length and breadth of the country. It is estimated that the textile segment employs over 4.5 crore people, the second largest employment provider in the country.  It contributes about 2% to India’s GDP.

A clean energy powered industry

The textile industry has been one of the early adopters of renewable energy in India. It has contributed significantly to the growth of renewable energy (mostly wind installations). However, with the growth of the solar ecosystem, the segment is seeing increased adoption of solar power as well. 

Many factors propel the adoption of solar energy in textile manufacturing, majorly the policies and initiatives announced by the Ministry of Power and Ministry of New and Renewable Energy. 

For one, the Ministry of Textiles has proposed a solar energy scheme for the development and up-gradation of the power-loom sector in the country. Under this scheme, the Government will assist in installing solar power plants to address power shortage issues. 

Secondly, decentralized power looms and knitting segments are the key pillars of the industry. The top textile producing states of the country include Maharashtra, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and West Bengal. These states have abundant access to natural sunlight. Little doubt then that these states are pioneering the use of solar energy in the textile segment. 

A labor-intensive industry driven by volumes, textile consumes a large quantity of natural resources including power. That makes it all the more important for the industry to shift towards renewable energy. 

Key challenges 

Being dominated by unorganized players, a lack of awareness is the major challenge. Also, lack of rooftops where solar panels can be mounted is another major roadblock. It is critical to create the right kind of awareness among stakeholders and explain the cost effectiveness of going solar as most of the investments are covered under various subsidy schemes offered by both central and state governments.


Like any other manufacturing segment, textile should also adopt sustainable routes. As they say, energy saved is equal to power generated. Efficiency improvement is also imperative. This translates to effective use of technology for optimal energy consumption and increased usage of renewable energy. 

This where the platforms like The smarter E India /Intersolar India 2022 show comes into the picture. Scheduled from 7-9 December 2022 at Gandhinagar, Gujarat, this is one of the best opportunities for all the textile stakeholders to visit and discuss various avenues to adopt solar power. 

Case Study of ABFRL

  • 2 MW solar rooftop PV system across six facilities has generated 8,197 MWh of power since FY19.
  • Generated ~2,179 MWh of solar electricity in FY22. 

ABFRL adopts sustainability 2.0 through solar

Aditya Birla Fashion and Retail Ltd (ABFRL), has instituted a Sustainability 2.0 agenda.One of the pioneers in the apparel retail segment to draw and augment a material circularity roadmap, ABFRL has placed equal focus on renewable energy—largely solar power. 

Mr Naresh Tyagi, Chief Sustainability Officer, AFBRL, elucidates, “Over the years, we have adopted a pragmatic approach to increase our share of renewable energy through solar rooftops and biomass-based briquettes. Along with the SRT PV system, we have leveraged biomass and wood as fuel across our boilers.” 

What started as a task for resource efficiency, has culminated into a full-scale project to optimize natural resources. As the company pursues the pathway toward Sustainability 2.0, the focus will increase on recycling, circularity, and the agenda to meet Net Zero targets. 

For instance, for energy efficiency, ABFRL has implemented initiatives like optimum internal and external lighting, installation of LED lights, VFDs and efficient equipment. “We have designed new facilities and stores embracing green concepts. These initiatives yielded a year-on-year reduction of 4% in energy intensity at a garment manufacturing level,” Mr Tyagi informs.

In addition to the ongoing efforts, in FY22, ABFRL signed a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) of around 1 MW of additional solar rooftop systems across 4 more facilities which are currently heading towards the installation and commissioning phase. With this increase of solar energy, the company’s portfolio of SRT PV systems will reach 3 MW, enhancing its renewable energy share. 

Besides, ABFRL conducted a third-party assessment to identify hotspots and potential areas of intervention to reduce energy consumption and enhance the share of clean energy in the fiscal year.

The company’s IGBC certified facilities (LBRD Warehouse, Attibele) participated in a performance challenge under the ‘Warehouse Building’ category. “Presently, the warehouse contributes to more than 2.3 lakh kWh of electricity generated from the Solar PV system in our annual energy consumption, thus avoiding more than 185 tonnes of CO2 every year.”

“Going forward, we envisage progress in this area by striving towards Net Zero Building rating systems i.e., both Net Zero Water Building (NZWB) and Net Zero Energy Building (NZEB) across the built environment. What is unique is that the NZEB and NZWB concepts align with IGBC and USGBC rating systems to achieve the goal of Net-Zero operations,” states Mr Tyagi. 

Salient features of Net Zero Energy Buildings:

1 Improvement in energy efficiency and reduction in annual energy consumption by about 25-30% with respect to the baseline.

  1. Overall reduction in energy cost of at least about 30%.
  2. Reliable source of power supply if combined with energy storage devices.
  3. Compliance to national codes and standards on energy efficiency, increased daylighting, and enhanced thermal comfort for the workforce

 “Over the years, we have adopted a pragmatic approach to increase our share of renewable energy through solar rooftops and biomass-based briquettes,”

                                                                                                 Naresh Tyagi,   

                                                                                                  Chief Sustainability Officer, ABFRL

Impact of Sustainability 2.0:

  1. 6.6% reduction in Scope 1 & 2 emissions across ABFRL operations due to renewable energy and energy efficiency measures.
  2. Our initiatives across energy efficiency and renewable energy aspects led to an emission reduction of 1,810 tCO e which included 1,721 tCO e from solar PV systems, 35 tCO e by switching boiler fuel from diesel to biomass boilers, and 54 tCO e from energy-efficient lights and solar street lights.
  3. More than 80 solar street lights across warehousing facilities will reduce energy consumption by 20,000 units, eliminating at least 17 tonnes of carbon emissions.

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