6th Bloomberg India Economic Forum: Investing for the Infrastructure of the Future, says Gautam Adani

6th Bloomberg India Economic Forum: Investing for the Infrastructure of the Future, says Gautam Adani

History has repeatedly shown that nations greatly benefit from this sort of youth bulge if they succeed in socializing health, education, and employment.

Ladies and Gentlemen

 

Let me begin by congratulating Bloomberg for a very successful 25 years in India. In 1996, India was just a $400 billion economy with under a billion people. As India now prepares to celebrate 75 years of freedom, I can confidently state that we are on the cusp of one of the most extraordinary periods of growth that any democratic nation has ever known. In about 25 years from now, India’s population will hit an all-time peak of 1.6 billion, with a median age under 40. History has repeatedly shown that nations greatly benefit from this sort of youth bulge if they succeed in socializing health, education, and employment. These developments are precisely what the current government has been accelerating through the various national schemes it has launched.

 Although the results will not appear overnight, I believe that between today and 2050, India will build the greatest competitive demographic advantage any nation has ever had, which in turn will mean an increased responsibility to play a leading role in global affairs. This leading role must begin with the effort to achieve sustainability, now the essential challenge on which every nation must be aligned. Ahead of COP 26, the Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, I pointed out that businesses that act on the urgent need to limit incremental global warming will secure the largest opportunities over the next several decades. Balancing growth while limiting emissions is an incredible global opportunity for businesses that are prepared to adapt. While easy solutions are not readily available as of today, we can draw upon our experience of the COVID pandemic as an example. After the initial panic, we came together to address and solve the problem far more quickly than anyone Page 2 of 5 thought possible. The world’s scientists collaborated across boundaries to create coronavirus vaccines in record time, taking less than a year when they might normally take five. 

Their success – when humankind faced an existential threat – makes me more optimistic than ever that science will ultimately prevail over the climate change challenge. It is up to us now to back up science with urgency, trust, and a focus on equitable solutions. In this race to avert ecological disaster, the world could use Indian leadership. India’s track record in living up to its sustainability commitments is better than that of any other major nation. At COP 21 in Paris, India promised that, by 2030, it would curtail the emissions intensity of its GDP by 33-35% and increase its share of nonfossil power capacity to 40%. We have beaten both targets, the latter nine years ahead of schedule. If nothing else, this is substantial evidence that India will likely achieve the new and more ambitious commitments that Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced at COP 26. However, we recognize that it will not be easy. Every political and business leader will be confronted with decisions requiring them to disrupt existing regulations as well as disrupt existing business models. Combine this with the disruptions in the digital space that have engulfed every field, and we have a near perfect storm. This storm will cause the collapse of many massive multinational businesses, only for them to be replaced by new multi-trillion-dollar companies arising from the intersection of sustainability and digital technologies. 

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In other words, the future of infrastructure to enable a greener world will require both sustainability and digital innovation to be at the core of both design and execution. Let me explain, from the perspective of the Adani Group. We build infrastructure that enables ‘flow’. And all that flows in this world will need to be clean and green — be it the flow of energy, the flow of goods, the flow of people or the flow of data. Over the past years, we established ourselves in all these flows through our electricity-related businesses, ports and logistics businesses, airport and transport businesses, and data-center-related businesses. Climate change mandates will allow every one of these businesses to explore and create fresh market opportunities and adjacencies. To do this effectively, we are rethinking and redesigning our current business models. I recognize the complexities as we enter adjacent areas of business that will require us to adapt and learn fast. But it is this uncertainty, this rapid evolution, that keeps things interesting. Page 3 of 5 Let me use some specific examples of how we are approaching the new market adjacencies When it comes to the flow of energy, it is now indisputable that green utility infrastructure will be the primary source of power. However, real value creators will take the green electron and, rather than accepting its ephemerality at the transmission grid, they will inventory the electron in another form – one clear possibility being hydrogen. This will disrupt multiple businesses along existing value chains, including in the chemical, metal, and other sectors. From an Adani perspective, we are very strongly positioned to produce the world’s least expensive hydrogen, which is expected to be an energy source plus feedstock for various industries that we intend to play in. When it comes to the flow of goods and people, it is clear that there will be a total restructuring of transportation infrastructure. 

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Electric vehicle fleets powered by onboard batteries, fuel cells, hydrogen or methanol mean that the internal combustion engine will become history and also that new infrastructure will be needed across the world. Be it infrastructure to produce sustainable aviation fuel for airplanes or nuclear-powered ships, every part of the logistics value chain will need to transform and be redesigned. While the economics still need to improve, the silver lining is that the solutions to green transportation are all within our grasp. Indeed, the Adani Group has had an early start and our portfolio includes increasingly green ports, green airports, green power, and green transmission. This put us in a position to become the partner of choice for several international businesses that will look to India for green infrastructure to serve the Indian as well as international markets. And when it comes to the flow of data, it is inevitable that massive data center infrastructure will become the largest energy-consuming industry to ever exist. From cloud storage applications support to data backup, as well as networking to hosting websites, data centers play a pivotal role in running the tech-driven modern world. This will exponentially grow with the advent of quantum computing and 5G. It is estimated that, in 2025, an individual in the developed world will have one interaction with a data center every 20 seconds. As 5G connectivity expands enterprise networks and moves data processing to the edge, we will need to reimagine data center designs.

 The Adani Group is well positioned to benefit from this trend given our ability to build data centers, connect data centers, and provide Page 4 of 5 100% green power to data centers – a provision that will be hard to replicate at an economic scale elsewhere in the world. At Adani, we are doing all we can to make renewables a viable, affordable alternative to fossil fuels. Since our declaration of intent at Davos 2020, we have proven our seriousness by becoming the world’s largest solar power developer in a period of just 30 months. By 2030, we expect to be the world’s largest renewable energy company without any caveat – and we have committed $70 billion over the next decade to make this happen. There is no other company that has yet made so large a bet on developing its sustainability infrastructure. We therefore believe the combination of our renewable capacity and the size of our investment makes us the leader among all global companies in the effort to produce cheap green electricity and green hydrogen. The global consensus appears to be that green hydrogen will be a boon to infrastructure. It is a miracle fuel and a miracle feedstock. Given India’s exponential growth in renewables, producing green hydrogen cheaply could transform India into a net exporter of green energy. Imagine that — an India no longer having to rely on imported fossil fuels, an India no longer exposed to the price fluctuations of international markets, an India that achieves fuel independence. 

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This is what we want to help make happen in our country. To that end, the Adani Group is also making major investments in digital infrastructure. Data centers, cloud computing and artificial intelligence vastly improve our access to information, real-time data, and energy efficiency. Science today needs massive computing capabilities and computing capabilities need cloudbased data centers and data centers consume enormous quantities of energy. We believe that India’s exponential growth in renewables capacity and our ability to eventually produce clean electricity will make us the greenest choice to warehouse not just India’s but perhaps much of the world’s data – and aligned with the ‘one sun, one world, one grid’ principle recently outlined at COP 26. As expected, there will be those who say India, and other nations, cannot afford the migration into a green, sustainable world as quickly as is required. I disagree. This is not the first time that humankind has faced an existential crisis. With the power of science, growing awareness, and global collaboration on our side, I am confident that we will emerge from this crisis too, with India stronger and more influential than ever before. Everything is affordable when the alternative is possible extinction. 

What I personally find exciting is the realization that we are now at one of the great inflexion points in the history of science, where digital technology intersects with sustainable infrastructure to create as yet unknown business models that will have near unlimited scale. We will need to compete, but India has a significant advantage because our middle class, our youth, our digital capability, and our infrastructure needs will both create and consume this industry of the future. Our response to these challenges will be the foundation for our nation’s growth over the next several decades and this growth is what will make the India story so inspiring for all of us who are fortunate enough to be a part of it.

 Thank you.

first published:Nov. 11, 2021, 11:38 p.m.

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