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Are We Doing Enough On Energy Efficiency?, Shri R V Shahi, Former Secretary, Ministry of Power

This point has been made on several occasions in the past, but it needs to be reiterated that while we have shortage of electricity we also indulge in wasteful consumption. As per the latest report of the Central Electricity Authority, for the month of April, 2008, the peek load deficit has increased. For the country as a whole, it is as high as 16.7%. The western region and the north-eastern region are experiencing the largest amounts of shortages. Though the eastern region shortage is comparatively the lowest, the State of Bihar has one of the highest shortages in the country at 28.1%. The overall average demand in the month of April was of the order of 107,000 MW and the demand met was of the order of 89,000 MW, thus leaving a shortfall of the order of 18,000 MW (16.7%). Some of the States which have comparatively higher levels of shortages, in each of the five regions, are given below :

Peak shortages as in April 2008 (In Percentage)

Northern Region 15.7 Haryana 20.7
Punjab 20.0
Uttar Pradesh 25.0
Western Region 26.3 Gujarat 28.3
Maharashtra 28.2
Madhya Pradesh 16.2
Southern Region 8.5 Andhra Pradesh 12.7
Kerala 11.4
Tamil Nadu 8.5
Eastern Region 6.1 Bihar 28.1
North-Eastern Region 30.6 Arunachal Pradesh 30.4
Manipur 20.8
Meghalaya 57.5
Mizoram 45.4
Overall Demand : 106,943 MW; Demand Met : 89,054 MW; Shortfall : 17,889 MW (16.7%)
Source : CEA Website

Though India has the distinction of being quite efficient on energy consumption with reference to GDP growth as compared to many other countries including USA, OECD countries and China, it is also true that if we became more efficient in consumption we could ideally save more than 20% of energy. For other countries, they have large generation capacities and therefore the incidence of shortage, if any, does not create much of an issue for them. For India, it is a national necessity that we save, so that shortages do not affect us so adversely. Energy Conservation Act was passed in 2001 and we operationalised the Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) by mid 2002. A National Agenda, which included important areas of attack with targeted action plans was launched by the then Prime Minister in September, 2002. Since then several initiatives have been taken by the Ministry of Power and Bureau of Energy Efficiency. In each of the major areas viz. (a) Energy Conservation in Industry, (b) Energy Audit and Efficiency Projects in Government Buildings, (c) Building Codes, (d) Labeling Programme, (e) Energy Conservation Awareness, (f) Painting Competition for School Children, (g) Development of Consumption Norms, (h) Notification of Designated Industry, (i) Energy Auditors Examination, (j) Energy Managers Examination, (k) Identification and Recognition of Energy Auditing Firms, (l) Listing of Energy Service Companies etc. In this paper I do not wish to describe a large number of activities and programmes that have been undertaken by the Bureau of Energy Efficiency and also by many other States nor do I intend highlighting the outcomes and achievements. What I wish to cover are the areas in which enormous potentials exist and not much has been done nor is being done, particularly at the State level.

In the year 2003-04, when we started exploring the possibility of energy efficiency projects in large Government buildings, this initiative was guided by two important considerations - (a) We consume a large amount of electricity in Government offices, hospitals etc. and in most cases we do not have efficient lighting, cooling/heating system, and (b) Energy efficiency message cannot possibly be conveyed, with effective outcome, to large masses of power consumers unless the Government itself demonstrates its commitments by its own actions. We started, in 2003-04 with seven large Government buildings in Delhi including Rashtrapati Bhawan. The idea was to cover as many large buildings as possible. It is understood that some more buildings have been brought into scanner now, but considering the scope for energy audit in buildings in Delhi and outside, even the extended coverage is far too inadequate. Bureau of Energy Efficiency, Ministry of Power, and especially CPWD and Ministry of Urban Development, have all to combine their efforts with required conviction and commitment, and prepare a time bound programme so that in next five years almost 75% of electricity consumption in Government offices, hospitals and other institutions get covered. This will obviously require deployment of a large number of energy audit agencies and energy service companies. We made a modest start to encourage private initiatives to come forward, embark upon taking up energy audit and energy efficiency projects. A number of agencies were accredited. The number, no doubt, is enlarged now, but considering the requirement it is nowhere near what we need. Capacity building to create a large number of such agencies will be essential. This could become a self financed initiative if properly structured.

Simultaneous with Central Government initiative to cover Government establishments, the State Governments were also approached during 2004-05 to launch similar actions. On this front, barring a few cases, there has been no visible response. Bureau of Energy Efficiency has its own limitations in terms of its organizational set up and outreach ability. The suggestion is not to create a huge Bureau of Energy Efficiency organization to take up such activities throughout the country. Two suggestions may be worth pursuing - (i) Atleast those States, if not all, in which the power shortages are comparatively of the higher order and are likely to continue, must be advised to set up Task Forces which could supplement the efforts of BEE in their respective States, (ii) BEE alongwith the State Government Energy Departments should work out specific schemes of enlisting required number of agencies which could undertake responsibilities as Energy Service Company (ESCO). State Government Energy Departments and the respective Task Forces should formulate a five year programme to cover Government offices, hospitals and other institutions in a manner that atleast 75% of electricity consumption comes under energy audit and energy efficiency projects.

When we took up the first set of seven Government buildings in Delhi in 2003-04, the idea was that the ESCO's should complete the whole cycle of energy audit and implementation of schemes (it is gratifying and relevant to mention that in the first of such buildings itself viz. the Rashtrapati Bhawan we got the predicted success of saving almost 30% of electricity consumption). This programme will not succeed unless it is appropriately monitored. The Task Forces of the States, the concerned Energy Departments, BEE and Ministry of Power could periodically meet to monitor the progress with reference to pre-determined targets.

As regards financing of energy efficiency projects, the Power Finance Corporation, the Rural Electrification Corporation and Industrial Development Finance Company, should consider a green channel approach for speedy sanction of loan financing. It needs to be mentioned that all these energy audit and efficiency projects have a pay-back period of 18 to 24 months and therefore there should be no reservation on the part of the financing companies to participate in these projects. The role of BEE would be crucial for the success of this scheme. They could provide necessary support by way of identifying ESCO's, coordinating with financing companies, coordinating with an agency which could work for CDM incentives. Since, in almost all these cases the clients will be either Central or State Government agencies for example. CPWD, PWD, Hospitals, Universities etc., a proper mechanism, to collect the savings effected due to reduced electricity consumption and use these revenues to service the debts, needs to be evolved. It is this security of payment which should inspire the financing agencies to be not only positive but also prompt in dealing with these cases. One of the reasons that many of the demand side management (DSM) projects did not succeed - in fact could not take off - is the hassle they have to undergo in organizing finance.

Energy efficiency projects in Government buildings, structured with this approach, when implemented, has a vast scope for bringing down electricity consumption in Central and State Government buildings to the extent of about 30%. Just to give a feel of the size of likely savings, in 2003-04, I recall, the Electricity Bill of Central and State Government buildings in Delhi alone was of the order of Rs. 600 crores per year (this figure must have now, in view of increased consumption, increased to almost Rs. 800 crores per year). Thus, in Delhi alone the saving potential is of the order of about Rs. 250 crores. State Governments which cooperate in this endeavour, even though they will gain by savings on electricity bills, may be rewarded both financially and otherwise through proper recognition, so that this specific opportunity receives the attention, sincerity and commitment it deserves.

BEE have worked out the Building Codes. This exercise has the advantage of valuable inputs derived through close association with a large number of architects and experts who worked on this almost for last three years. The Codes have formally been announced. What we need is the implementation. Development of large, private township complex, departmental stores and malls is a phenomenon which the Indian cities and their outskirts have witnessed only in last five to six years. While this is a good development as it shows that India is prospering, the greatest casualty in these developments is the energy efficiency. Reckless development of these malls which continue to be approved by various municipal authorities, have not only been blind to the increased demand for electricity and to the reality whether there would be additional availability of power, these have been totally indifferent to the needs of energy efficient buildings and mall complexes. Only recently, in the satellite township near Delhi in Gurgaon residents and Resident Welfare Associations launched a massive protest that the authorities should not sanction any large complexes unless they made arrangement for additional power supply.

A few suggestions which could be considered for action would include (a) Municipal authorities must be obliged to sanction only such large buildings and malls which are declared, at the stage of planning and design, to be energy efficient. This could apply to all such buildings where the requirement of power is more than say 200 KW. Architects must be exposed and trained to the latest energy conservation measures based on international expertise and experience so that they incorporate in their plans and designs only such materials, such layouts and such gadgets which lead to most efficient consumption of electricity. At present this is not being done. This needs to be institutionalized. Pending actions on old buildings which will also need to be modified and retrofitted to make them energy efficient, urgent steps as suggested above, need to be taken for new complexes, (b) BEE needs to keep a watch on all such developments in the country. The method to do this would be to set up a procedure alongwith State Designated Agency which could keep providing, on a periodic basis, data on developments taking place in their respective areas, (c) An MIS by BEE to Ministry of Power and various State Energy Departments highlighting whether or not the new constructions comply with energy efficiency requirements could throw up criticalities which could be attended to at higher levels. In the matter of energy conservation, while we are trying to tackle the problem with reference to what already exists viz. the factories, offices and other buildings, perhaps our attention on the new creations is lacking which is, in fact, compounding the problems.

Compact Flurocent Lamp (CFL) has been accepted, even in Indian context, by a large number of consumers. Its sales are picking up. In the beginning of Tenth Plan the total volume was less than 20 millions. In the end of Tenth Plan it rose to about 90 million. Similarly its price was Rs. 200 per unit in 2002 and it decreased to about Rs. 60 towards the end of 2006. If the volumes increase, prices can go down further. Delhi Government and Delhi distribution companies came out with innovative solutions by incentivising the consumers for purchase of CFL system. CFL lighting holds tremendous promise to make a meaningful and significant dent on the issue of energy efficiency in lighting. Two suggestions could be considered - (a) CPWD at the Center level and PWD in all the States should be advised to decide that the entire lighting system in Government offices, hospitals and other institutions should be replaced by CFL in a time bound manner, say in next two to three years, (b) All the distribution companies should make arrangements with banks and other financial institutions to fund replacement of conventional lighting in large private organizations - factories, shops, malls, offices etc. This should be followed subsequently to cover domestic consumers as well. The role of distribution company would be important for providing payment security for the loan, which will be repaid through the savings effected on reduced electricity consumption. Normally the pay-back period would be of the order of two years. BEE should catalyze this process. A number of alternate strategies and solutions to meet this objective could be worked out in consultation with distribution companies, ESCO's, and banks and financial institutions. A menu of options, when offered to consumers, could elicit their positive response.

LED (Light Emitting Diodes) is another emerging opportunity which holds great promise. Just as a 60 Watt conventional bulb can be replaced by a 14 Watt CFL, thus reducing electricity consumption to almost 25%, LED can reduce it to almost 5%. What is holding the consumers, however, in going towards this is the lack of awareness and also its high price. Following suggestions need to be considered - (a) We must encourage a few manufacturing facilities to be set up in India and play on the advantage of the massive volumes that can be produced and sold. While in the Ministry of Power, I had initiated a discussion with NTPC to promote such a factory in association with some eminent technology developer. The production can be piggybacked on Rajeev Gandhi Grameen Vidyutikaran Yojana. In this scheme, not only connectivity has to be provided upto the village but free connectivity has to be provided to all the households in BPL category. Since, if BPL families use conventional lighting the charges will be excessive, within the same cost perhaps connectivity alongwith LED could be provided to each of the BPL family under the RGGVY. The volume of requirement will be so huge that the factory proposed could produce LED system at much cheaper rates than being manufactured and sold at present. In such a situation LED could also be popularized, with lesser price, among general consumers in towns and cities and in villages, with consequent further reduction in price of LED. This approach is workable and can deliver the outcome progressively starting from within a year.

One can say that all these suggestions around savings in lighting would, no doubt, bring down the consumption substantially so far as the lighting is concerned, but how about the large consumptions that are required for gadgets like Air Conditioners, Coolers, Geysers, Micro Ovens etc. which are really electricity guzzlers. A very appropriate action was taken by launching the Labeling programme starting with Refrigerators and CFL Tubes and later Air Conditioners. Subsequently more gadgets have been brought in. The idea was that in the beginning this will be voluntary, but subsequently it will be made mandatory. Experience of last two years indicates that prosperity in the middle and lower middle income groups in India is leading to, in a massive way, purchases of gadgets like Refrigerators, Air Conditioners, Coolers etc. But in most of these cases these purchases are for low priced products which are highly energy inefficient. There are Air Conditioners available today which could be purchased for Rs. 10,000, but they consume double the electricity as compared to even a moderately efficient Air Conditioner. In a period of two years, with proper announcements, and wide publicity we should stop entry of such products which have Labels below THREE STARS and no entry of Unstarred products. In the next phase, we should motivate the manufacturers of Three Star products to improve and come to the standards so that they could be at par with Four Star products. And then we should stop entry of even three star products. This would mean that the consumers will have only Four and Five star products which would be highly energy efficient. While we need to develop understanding with manufacturers, allow them to upgrade their manufacturing and testing facilities, what is more important is to communicate effectively with consumers. Our objective should be that our communication is complete in a manner that it is consumers who reject inefficient gadgets and products rather than the system and rules trying to enforce this upon them.

As regards creating awareness about energy conservation, advertisements by BEE and a few product manufacturers have no doubt increased in the last few years. But barring a few, the Distribution Companies/State Electricity Boards have not been making any serious and systematic effort on this. Not that website is visited by all consumers, and also its power to communicate has its own limitations, yet this does demonstrate the commitment of the electricity distribution companies and their interest in electricity conservation. For curiosity, I glanced through the websites of almost twenty Electricity Boards/Distribution Companies. Surprisingly, except North Delhi Power Company (NDPL) no other company has provided any link on its home page on energy conservation, nor have they given any meaningful details about conservation in their other contents. The energy conservation tips provided by NDPL need to be recognized as they do provide relevant and meaningful guidance to consumers. I would like to Annexe it to this paper. None of the State Regulatory Commissions, in the website, has provided any guidance or advice, or ruling to consumers or to Distribution Companies on this vital issue. Efforts by Distribution Utilities and State Regulatory Commissions would be crucial and can make significant difference.

Last but not the least, we waste a lot of electricity in agricultural sector. In many States since electricity consumption in agriculture is not metered, and in a few cases electricity is supplied free, consumers are least concerned about the type of pumps they purchase. Obviously, they go for the cheapest, which may be consuming maximum amount of electricity. In either case - unmetered or free supply - they are not bothered because in case of free power they don't have to pay at all, and in case of unmetered supply they have to pay a fixed amount. This is a tricky issue no doubt, because it has political ramification. However, a solution needs to be worked out. Targeted subsidy to needy farmers, in the form of monetary support, but metered electricity supply, seems to be a solution. This coupled with education and awareness on availability of efficient pumps and similar innovative financing solutions together with active engagement of ESCO's, as have been detailed in respect of buildings, might be the right approach.

The subject of energy efficiency is so vast and possibilities of improvement so enormous that everything cannot be and need not be brought into one brief paper. Many of these, in any case, would fall in to long term strategy. In this paper, I have tried to confine myself to very few specific areas, without aiming at a comprehensive listing, which could be put into implementation immediately on a priority basis. Each of these would have the potential of bringing about improvements and results in a matter of a year or two. BEE and Ministry of Power are already on right track. What is needed is to focus on specifics, institutionalize the system with pin-pointed accountability and put in place a monitoring mechanism and MIS for feed back and evaluation.

Electricity Saving

India needs to add 12000 MW of electricity every year to meet the growing demand of power consumption in the country, especially in the industrial sector, which accounts for 56% of total energy consumed. This would require an annual investment of nearly 50,000 crores which is huge. Efficient demand side management supported by innovative energy conservation techniques in the industrial and commercial sector could save around 25% of consumption, which is equivalent to 30,000 MW of power generated.

India has 15% of world population but has only 2% of world oil reserves and hence its time for industries and commercial establishments to focus on energy conservation by adopting latest technologies and devices. In the last 10-15 years, in India, the power cost has risen three-fold impacting the competitiveness of industry. This further calls for energy conservation.

Conserving or saving energy is a national cause. Efficient Energy Management is a key to sustain the Competitiveness of Indian Industry. Energy efficiency will lead to benefits in terms of competitiveness and a better share of the international market. Energy saving requires not just efficient equipment, appliances and gadgets, but most importantly it requires a change in the habits and attitude we have towards energy in general and electricity in particular.

Are We Using Energy Wisely?
1. Turn off your home office equipment when not in use. A computer that runs 24 hours a day, for instance, uses - more power than an energy-efficient refrigerator.
2. If your computer must be left on, turn off the monitor; this device alone uses more than half the system's energy.
3. Setting computers, monitors, and copiers to use sleep-mode when not in use helps cut energy costs by approximately 40%.
4. Battery chargers, such as those for laptops, cell phones and digital cameras, draw power whenever they are plugged in and are very inefficient. Pull the plug and save.
5. Screen savers save computer screens, not energy. Start-ups and shutdowns do not use any extra energy, nor are they hard on your computer components. In fact, shutting computers down when you are finished using them actually reduces system wear - and saves energy.
6. One of the best energy-saving devices is the light switch. Turn off lights when not required.
7. Dirty tube lights and bulbs less light and can absorb 50 percent of the light; dust your tube lights and lamps regularly.
8. Fluorescent tube lights and CFLs convert electricity to visible light up to 5 times more efficiently than ordinary bulbs and thus save about 70% of electricity for the same lighting levels.
9. Ninety percent of the energy consumed by an ordinary bulb (incandescent lamp) is given off as heat rather than visible light.
10. A 15-watt compact fluorescent bulb produces the same amount of light as a 60-watt incandescent bulb.
11. By reducing the temperature setting of water heater from 60 degrees to 50 degrees C, one could save over 18 percent of the energy used at the higher setting.
12. To help reduce heat loss, always insulate hot water pipes, especially where they run through unheated areas. Never insulate plastic pipes.
13. Use an electric kettle to heat water. It's more energy efficient than using an electric cook top element.
14 Iron your clothes and linen all in one go. Do not keep a hot iron which is switched in an upright position for long period since more heat will be lost.
15. Avoid storing hot / warm food in the refrigerator.
16. Use of white or light colours for interior walls, ceilings, curtains, drapes and furniture reflects more light within the building and therefore further reduces the cost of lighting.
17. Do not set the temperature regulator of the refrigerator at high if the quantity of the food within is small. Also, stack food items inside to allow air circulation.
18. By locating doors and windows to admit more sunlight through them you can avoid using electricity for lighting your home or office during the day.
19. Orientation of the house and surrounding landscape has a large effect on energy consumption. Planting trees on the south and west will reflect natural light through the windows resulting in less use of heating appliances like room heaters etc. in winters and would provide ample light.
20. Auto defrost refrigerators consume more electricity. Larger the refrigerator, higher will be the usage of electricity.