Trends and Challenges in the Use of Renewable Energy in the Indian Food Industry

India spans 2.4% of the world’s land area and has about 17.5% of the world’s population. With urbanization, a rise in population, and increased spending tendencies, the stress on water consumption, waste disposal, energy usage, and housing needs is increasing exponentially. India’s contribution to the world’s cumulative emissions so far is less than 4 percent, and our annual per capita emissions are about one-third of the global average. India aims to achieve 450 gigawatts of renewable energy capacity by 2030. India is also aiming to achieve Net Zero Emissions by 2070. Some of the new initiatives taken by the Indian government to achieve these aims are aimed at increasing the adoption of renewable energy, e-mobility, ethanol-blended fuels, and green hydrogen as alternate energy sources (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change report on India, 2022). Of the installed capacity, the total electric power installed capacity from non-fossil fuel-based energy resources was 173.14 GW as of November 30, 2022, which is 42.3 percent of the total electric power installed capacity, primarily solar and wind.

The food industry has also started using renewable energy for its operations. According to CDP India Report 2023, The food and beverage, services, and hospitality sectors are the leaders, with a combined 11% of their total electricity coming from renewable sources for consumption. Out of total energy consumption for their operations, the food, beverage, and agriculture sector uses 60% of non-renewable and 40% of renewable energy.

The approach used by the Food Industry:

Most industry players use 3C’s energy-saving approach – Conserve, Convert, and Create.

Fig 1: Different strategies and approaches taken by Food Industry players to save energy.
Fig 1: Different strategies and approaches taken by Food Industry players to save energy.

The First C is Conserve. Energy conservation practices are implemented through awareness creation programs and training for employees. The simple actions, such as – turning off equipment when not in use and shutting down non-essential lighting and machinery during breaks or non-production periods, are encouraged.

The second C is Convert. It includes solutions to increase overall efficiency by using certain actions such as converting waste to energy, using energy-efficient equipment, using advanced control systems, and storing extra energy to use in the future.

The third C is Create, where, the energy is created through different means, but the major focus is creating energy or generating power through renewable sources to reduce carbon footprint, enhance reputation on ESG front, save money on energy bills, and reduce dependence on fossil fuels.

Different renewable energy sources exist, such as – Solar, Wind, Hydrothermal, Geothermal, Biomass, etc. However, most of the food industry players commonly use only three sources – Solar, Wind, and Biomass renewable energy sources (Table 1).

 Solar Power: Companies have invested in photovoltaic solar systems in their food manufacturing facilities, which capture sunlight and convert it into electricity.

 Wind Energy: Wind turbines convert wind’s kinetic energy into electrical energy. They are increasingly adopted near food manufacturing plants in regions with favorable wind conditions.

 Biomass and Bioenergy: Through anaerobic digestion, organic waste produced during food preparation can be converted into biogas. This biogas can be used directly as an energy source or to generate power.

Table 1. Renewable energy sources used by the Indian food industry:

CategoryIndicative PlayersRenewable sources of energy used
BeveragesHindustan Coca-Cola BeveragesSolar, Wind, and Biomass
PepsiCoSolar, Wind, and Biogas
Snack foodsHaldiramSolar and Biomass/biogas
Dairy ProductsAmulSolar and Biogas
Heritage IndiaSolar and Wind
Processed FoodsITCSolar, Wind, and Biomass
NestleSolar, Wind, and Biomass
Bakery and ConfectionaryJubilant FoodWorksSolar
BritanniaSolar, Wind, and Biomass
Health and WellnessPatanjaliSolar
DaburSolar and Biomass
Seafood and meat processingAvanti FeedsSolar and Wind
Venky’s FoodsSolar

Source: Company annual reports

Challenges in adopting renewable energy:

Although there are many advantages, food manufacturing companies encounter many obstacles when incorporating renewable energy into their operations. These problems need serious thought and creative solutions:

  1. Intermittency of Renewable Sources: Renewable energy sources like the Sun and Wind are intermittent and dependent on weather conditions. Continuous industrial operations can be disrupted by inconsistent energy generation. This can be mitigated by implementing energy storage systems.
  2. High Initial Capital Costs: Installing renewable power systems, like solar or wind turbines, can come with hefty upfront expenses. This makes allocating the required resources difficult for food manufacturers, particularly smaller businesses. The initial capital investment burden can be lessened with the aid of government incentives, subsidies, and advantageous financing choices. Long-term operational cost benefits may eventually balance the initial costs.
  3. Technological Compatibility and Integration: It could be difficult to retrofit current manufacturing facilities to accept renewable energy systems. It is imperative to guarantee compatibility with current equipment and procedures.
    The seamless integration of renewable energy systems into the current infrastructure can be facilitated by careful design, technology advancements, and personnel training.
  4. Scalability and Flexibility: Production levels can differ in the food production sector. It is difficult to guarantee that renewable energy systems can effectively scale up or down to meet shifting energy demands. Hybrid energy systems that integrate numerous renewable sources and advanced control systems can be implemented to improve scalability and flexibility in response to changing energy needs.
  5. Availability of suitable sites: Certain renewable energy sources, like wind, need suitable geographic locations. Some food processing facilities may lack access to ideal locations for these technologies. Energy generation can be maximized by selecting renewable energy solutions according to the climate and topography of the area. Businesses may occasionally need to explore alternate sources or concentrate on more site-independent solutions.
  6. Public Perception and Stakeholder Engagement: Concerns about aesthetics, loudness, or perceived difficulties related to renewable energy infrastructure may cause stakeholders or the public to oppose the adoption of renewable energy. challenging to encourage suppliers, contract manufacturers, etc, to adopt the same technologies for their operations.
    Responsible project design, effective communication, and community engagement can facilitate building support and fostering a positive public view.
  7. Technology Risks and Reliability: Technologies that use renewable energy sources may be vulnerable to unanticipated problems or equipment breakdowns that may compromise their dependability and performance. Risks related to the operation of renewable energy systems can be reduced by routine maintenance, careful observation, and investments in tested and dependable technologies.

To address these issues, a comprehensive strategy that considers the financial, social, legal, and technological facets is needed. The community, business stakeholders, and government agencies must work together to integrate renewable energy into the food manufacturing sector successfully.


  1. United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
  2. CDP India Report 2023
  3. Company Annual Reports and websites


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