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Mr. Saurabh Kumar, Managing Director, EESL

02 Aug 2016

‘LED market size in India to reach Rs 21,600 crore by 2020’ India is all set to become the biggest market for LED lighting in the world, thanks to the regulatory and policy initiatives taken by the NDA government as well as the path breaking work done by Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL) - a Joint Venture of NTPC Limited, PFC, REC and POWERGRID. Saurabh Kumar, Managing Director, EESL, shares his vision on the energy efficiency industry in India and what lies in store in the future.

Please share your outlook on the LED lighting industry in India, in terms of market size, demand and growth potential.

A phenomenal growth has been registered in the Indian LED market since the launch of the UJALA programme as it has created demand for affordable LED bulbs in the country. As per estimations, the market size of the Indian LED industry will reach as high as Rs. 21,600 crore by the year 2020. In the year 2013, out of the Rs. 13,000 crore turnover of India’s lighting industry, LED industry stood at Rs. 1,925 crore. The UJALA programme has played a significant role in creating awareness about LEDs in every nook and corner of the country and made the LED lighting technology more popular in India.

Please outline the challenges in promoting LED as an energy efficient source of lighting in India. How can we overcome these?

The biggest roadblocks in LED lighting adoption in India have already been taken care of by EESL. Problems and bottlenecks are now not as dominating as they used to be about one year ago. EESL effectively created awareness of energy saving LED technology in India and fostered its subsequent demand in the country. When we started out, LED bulbs were quite expensive compared to CFLs or incandescent bulbs, each bulb was somewhere around Rs. 300-350. Moreover selling a comparatively costlier lighting option i.e. LED in a price sensitive market such as India was a challenge. EESL overcame this challenge with bulk procurements from LED manufacturers in the country and benefitted from volume discount. Interestingly, within one year of running this scheme, due to bulk procurements from indigenous manufacturers the prices of LED plummeted to about Rs. 55 per bulb. This way we were able to effectively implement Government of India’s idea of efficient lighting throughout the country.

Please update on the UJALA scheme and progress achieved so far.

Under UJALA scheme, we have distributed to over 13 crore LED bulbs in India, which are leading to energy savings of about 4,60,43,066 KWh every day. The total estimated cost savings per day through the distribution is about INR 18,41,76,523. The scheme has further successfully avoided a peak demand of 3,365 MW and is helping reduce over 37,296 tonnes of CO2 emissions per day. With a vision of including 100 cities under the UJALA scheme, EESL has now successfully spread to more than 125 cities and will cover the whole country by 2019.

What are the savings envisaged due to the LED bulb program of the Government in terms of peak demand and reduction in carbon footprint?

As already stated, with the distribution of over 13 crore LED bulbs, the country is saving 4,60,43,066KWh of energy every day. Avoiding peak demand of 3,365 MW, it is further reducing over 37,296 tonnes of CO2 emissions per day.

What other initiatives are being implemented by EESL towards energy efficiency?

Following are some other initiatives: National Energy Efficient Fan Programme (NEEFP): National Energy Efficient Fan Program (NEEFP) was implemented by EESL for consumers under demand side management, with the aim of benefitting the people from all socio-economic bands. Under NEEFP, EESL aims to replace 35 crore inefficient regular ceiling fans across households with BEE 5 Star rated efficient ceiling fans by 2018. With the intent to give a significant thrust to the expansion of market for efficient fan technologies in India, EESL through its procurement of fans, has brought the price of a fan down by 33 per cent to Rs. 955, when compared to the market price. Streetlight National Programme (SLNP): Street lights in India were recognised as the second most potential group resulting in significant energy savings. The conventional lighting is not only a burden on current energy production but the insufficient lighting levels and bad colour rendering indices is a public problem. It has been theoretically stated that if illuminated street light structures are visible from the sky, it is nothing more than light pollution in the night sky. Here, the concept of ‘dark sky initiative’ was imbibed and research was carried out to come up with street lights which consume less energy, illuminate only the pathways, reduce light trespass and have improved colour rendering index. A way forward was planned and EESL began replacing the conventional street lights with new energy efficient ones at its own cost ,i.e., without any investment from Urban Local Bodies (ULBs). The new lights being put in place consume less energy, have drastic colour rendering index and illuminate only the focused area. The street light contracts that EESL enters into with ULBs or municipalities is typically of a 7-year duration, wherein EESL not only guarantees a minimum energy saving (usually of 50%) but also provides free replacements and maintenance of lights at no additional costs to the municipality. In this scheme, EESL’s investment is recovered through the long terms energy savings resulted by the new street lights. More than 878,319 inefficient street lights have already been replaced with LED lights across the nation and work is in progress wherein EESL has signed MoUs, entered into agreements for SLNP with state governments. The overall energy savings estimated from the completed cities is about 318829.79 kWh per day. The combined reduction of CO2 emissions taken from completed ULBs of different states is about 264 tonnes. EESL’s business model for efficient street lighting benefits municipalities by reductions in energy and maintenance costs. Agriculture Demand Side Management (AgDSM): India’s agricultural sector takes about 18% of the total national electricity consumption. As per the Central Electricity Authority (CEA), there are about 20.27 million pump sets installed in agricultural sector. As electricity supply is inconstant in the rural regions, the farmers frequently have to spend money on pump repairs. This results in adoption of rugged, locally manufactured pumps, which are highly inefficient. The average efficiency of existing in-efficient pump sets is in the range of 20% - 30% whereas efficiency range of new star rated Energy Efficient Pump sets (EEPS) is 40% - 50%. Therefore, there is a need to tap the huge energy savings potential promised in agriculture pumping sector. Under AgDSM proposition, replacement of inefficient agricultural pump sets is done with BEE star rated energy efficient pump sets to reduce the energy consumption. It has been experienced that the simple payback period in these projects is 2-3 years and total project duration is 4-5 years. Here, EESL enters into an understanding with the farmers and DISCOMs to provide with free BEE star labled pump set and later recovers its investment through received energy savings. Under AgDSM, about 4,423 pump sets have already been replaced in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka combined. The AgDSM initiative has resulted in estimated savings of about 229.7 lakh kWh of electricity per annum. In the above regions of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, it was noted that well designed and targeted DSM programmes have proven to set examples and can be replicated at a large scale. The EESL model for Agricultural Demand Side Management (AgDSM) is beneficial for customers because there is no upfront cost to farmers and utilities and there is free repair and maintenance during project period. EESL recovers costs from DISCOM through the annual energy savings achieved and there is reduction in power purchase costs, peak load and load-shedding to DISCOMS. This opportunity not only reduces the costs of Government and the farmers, but also holds the potential of transforming into a big business opportunity, where investments can be recovered through monetary energy savings. EESL’s Buildings Efficiency Programme: The way to sustainable future lies in having smart infrastructure, that consumes less energy yet works better than the existing setup. It has been estimated that on an average, a building wastes about 30% of energy and if nothing was ever done to improve its efficiency, there is lot of room to bring about a big change. What if we devise methods to secure the 30% energy loss in buildings and not let it go waste? The obtained savings can be used to add to the energy production and help to realise the dream of 24 X 7 uninterrupted power supply. In a fresh move to initiate this change, Government of India appointed EESL to not only help make the existing buildings energy efficient but also improve their overall energy performance. To start with, EESL began installing energy efficient lighting in government buildings which not only resulted in improving the overall energy consumption but also gave a better lighting output. This project is driven by the inculcation of Buildings Management Systems or the BMS, which provides a comprehensive view into building’s energy consumptions through data driven live reports. The BMS is supported by a user-friendly software system that exhibits energy trend analysis and helps to optimize energy management strategies to further reduce the operational costs. EESL’s buildings programme has successfully been completed at Niti Ayog, Shram Shakti Bhawan, India Habitat Center, UPSC building, IP Bhawan along with others. Currently, work is being carried out in more than 18 buildings to make them more energy efficient. It was observed that on an average, EESL has successfully received energy savings of about 19% on bills with its completed buildings projects.

Please elaborate on your plans on energy-efficient fans. What progress has been achieved under this initiative?

EESL’s fan distribution scheme is also going on in Andhra Pradesh and UP and we have huge distribution targets in both the regions. With over 32 million fans sold every year at a 20% annual growth rate, ceiling fans are one of the most economical options (as and when compared to the Air Conditioning Units). Reports suggest that almost every electrified household in India has at least one unit for their summers. National Energy Efficient Fan Program (NEEFP), was implemented for consumers under demand side management, with the aim of benefitting the people from all socio-economic bands. Under NEEFP, EESL aims to replace 35 crore inefficient regular ceiling fans across households with BEE 5 Star rated efficient ceiling fans by 2018. With the intent to give a significant thrust to the expansion of market for efficient fan technologies in India, EESL through its procurement of fans, has brought the price of a fan down by 33 per cent to Rs. 955, when compared to the market price.

The price of LED bulbs has come down drastically due to the Government’s strong push towards energy efficiency. However, do you feel the same has happened in the open market? Has the benefit of price reduction reached the end consumer?

Before the initiation of LED bulbs under UJALA scheme the penetration of LEDs, the most efficient lighting in the market was less than 1%. However after the tremendous success of the scheme the penetration now raised to 15-18%. The LED programme under UJALA is the largest in the world and the success of the programme is visible through the daily uptake of our LED bulbs which is now 350,000 to 400,000. Government of India created a conducive regulatory institutional framework for fostering Energy Efficiency initiatives. Under regulatory perspective EESL was set up as the market aggregator. LED has become popular to the extent that small scale LED industries have come up in India. Their prices are today as low as Rs. 65-75 per LED bulb. This model which is fundamental to National LED programmes holds promise for other appliances as well. Having said that need of the hour is to replicate the LED model to other appliances which will help us achieve a higher scale and I am glad to say that EESL is already moving towards that.

Do you feel India has the potential to be the biggest market for LED in the world?

With the pace we are treading forward, we are hopeful that we can achieve this and it is not a far spot in future. We are running the world’s largest LED bulb distribution programme and the governmental push has led to the growth of indigenous manufacturers in LED bulb industry, which is only flourishing. I definitely foresee India exporting LED bulbs to other countries in abundance.