Why are there too few green chemicals startups in India? - Insights
Globally, the chemicals industry is a sizable contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, and so it is in India too.
But the chemicals sector is complex, not just from technology and process perspectives, but also from the decarbonization angle. For one, there are thousands of different chemicals, each having its own production pathway, attendant energy inputs and emissions profiles. In addition, a large portion of the chemicals industry also uses carbon (mostly from fossil sources) as a feedstock. Finally, in addition to emissions from heating (or scope 2 emissions from power), there are also process CO2 emissions - for instance, the production of hydrogen for ammonia production releases CO2 as a by-product. (Those interested on knowing more abt the chem industry decarbonization canvas may want to read a paper I published in the Chemical Industry Magazine earlier this year )
Thus far, neither government mandates nor end user pressure had significantly weighed down on this sector to decarbonize. But this is changing. Governments are starting to turn the screws on this sector to go low carbon. And end user markets - both business and consumer markets - are demanding low carbon products. All said however, it is very early days for the decarbonization process in this industry. Not surprisingly, in our consulting assignments at EAI, we were able to identify only very few decarbonization, low carbon chem industry success stories, and not just in India, but anywhere else in the world.
But innovations and startups in green chemicals is starting to happen worldwide, and in India too.
One of the torch bearers for Indian green chemicals startups is Proklean Technologies, a company that had come up proprietary technologies to develop low carbon chemicals targetting specific industries such as textiles, home cleaning, paper & hospitality sectors. A reading about the startup shows the importance to have a group of founders with rich background in the industry and who are able to focus their innovations around specific use cases and pain points rather than trying a broad brush right at the start. The Proklean success also highlights the importance of having investors who are both committed and patient to truly make a difference to the world - instead of just to themselves and their LPs or super investors or whoever puts in the money into them