FAST FASHION TO SUSTAINABLE FASHION – THE CASE FOR RENEWABLES TO POWER INDIA’s TEXTILES INDUSTRY


Nithya Balakrishnan

May 2022


FAST FASHION TO SUSTAINABLE FASHION – THE CASE FOR RENEWABLES TO POWER INDIA’s TEXTILES INDUSTRY


INDIA’s TEXTILE INDUSTRY – CURRENT SCENARIO


‘Roti, Kapda aur Makaan’ are often termed as the basic necessities of life – for readers who are not familiar with this Hindi saying, it merely translates to Food, Clothing and Shelter. In India, manufacturing of textiles is one of the oldest industries contributing significantly to the growing economy. Fast forward to today where to certain sections of society, clothing has morphed into an extravagant, luxurious style statement from a mere necessity. An outfit reflects class, extravagance, art and creativity.

India ranks 2nd globally in export of textiles. It is the world’s largest producer of Cotton. Before the end of the decade, the country’s textiles market is expected to be worth over $209 Bn. Apparel exports is estimated to be valued at $65 Bn by FY26. Facilitating this is favourable government policies including promotion of exports, production linked incentives (PLI) for technical textiles & man-made fibre and allowing 100% FDI in the sector through the automatic route. The sector also employs nearly 5 crore workers across the value chain.

GREENING INDIA’s APPAREL & TEXTILES INDUSTRY


It is imperative that industry drive Energy Transition in India. With hubs across Tamil Nadu, Delhi NCR, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh – it becomes evident that textiles manufacturing can go hand-in-hand with adoption of clean energy, as all these states have a favourable renewables policy.

Apart from just clean energy adoption, other methods include sourcing of green fibre, reduction of hazardous chemicals in dyeing, waste-heat recovery, treatment of wash-waste water, reuse and recycling of fabric. While initial analysis could make it seem that investment for a green-fabric processing plant is about 30-40% higher, the costs balance out in the long run as there is a premium market for eco-friendly, sustainable sourced and produced textiles, especially in developed markets.

This article will highlight some of the easiest ways to switch to clean electricity sources for apparel manufacturing in India, while enumerating benefits of the same.

CLEAN ELECTRICTY FOR TEXTILE MANUFACTURING IN INDIA


Manufacturing of textiles is an energy intensive process – whether it is creating of fabric yarn, spinning, printing, singeing, chemical processing or weaving. Electricity costs contribute over 23% to operational costs, in most cases. The primary benefits of clean energy alternatives like Solar, Wind or Hybrid are:

  • Cost Savings: Industrial electricity tariffs are steep. Textile makers can save up to 40% of electricity costs by adoption of renewable power. Solar is amongst the cheapest sources of power in India and very popular amongst manufacturers in Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan and even Maharashtra.
  • Pricing Clarity for 25 years: Solar PPAs are signed for a period of over 2 decades and clarity in tariff escalation is worked into the contract beforehand. This gives transparency in electricity costs to the offtaker – irrespective of fluctuation in fuel or coal costs.
  • Accelerating the Manufacturer’s Sustainability Goals: Companies across the globe are prioritizing the environment and are finally cognizant of climate change. Procuring clean energy directly or through RECs (Renewable Energy Certificates) and VPPAs (Virtual Power Purchase Agreements are the quickest ways for manufacturers to meet their ESG and low-Carbon goals.

PIONEERS LEADING THE ‘GREEN REVOLUTION’ IN TEXTILES & APPAREL


China is the world’s largest producer and exporter of textiles – with many manufacturing units biting the bullet on adoption of solar and onsite wind to fuel their processes. Some of the top sectoral names in RE100 include CHANEL, BURBERRY, NIKE, UNDER ARMOUR, ASICS and NEW BALANCE.

In India manufacturers and exporters are jumping on the green energy bandwagon – while RSWM, Aravind and Raymonds were amongst the initial adopters, names like Shahi exports, KG Fabriks, Matrix Clothing, Raghav Woolen Mills have joined the fray.

Let us take the example of India’s largest manufacturer and exporter of synthetic and blended spun yarn – RSWM and the company’s tryst with affordable Solar power. RSWM has over 23 MW of Solar Power fueling its manufacturing facilities across the State. The company houses the largest onsite, captive solar plant for a single offtaker – an 11 MW ground-mount solar plant. RSWM saves over 12 crore rupees annually in electricity costs, while reducing Carbon emissions by 32,000 tonnes.


32,000
(Fewer tons of CARBON
oxides emitted per year )

7,41,44,640
(litres/year of WATER
conserved by switching to RE)

14.5 Lakhs
(Carbon offset in terms of
equivalent TREES planted/year )