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Energy Efficiency needs to be at the core of India’s energy security strategy

Energy plays a very critical role in the development of any country. By the year 2030, energy demand is estimated to increase by at least 35 per cent thus creating greater demand for solutions that reduce energy consumption. A global response is therefore needed towards the demand for products, solutions and systems that can contribute to solving energy problems. Since energy efficiency and conservation will be key elements to a sustainable future, India needs to focus a lot more on the technologies that are more energy efficient and thus sustainable.

In September 2016, the UN General Assembly adopted the Sustainable Development Goals for 2030. Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India while addressing the International Conference on Rule of Law for supporting 2030 Development Agenda reiterated that these goals reflect our evolving understanding of the social, economic and environmental linkages that define our lives. He further elaborated that India’s commitments at COP-21 underlines the Indian ethos, which aims at changing human lifestyle in the manner in which we engage in economic activity.

According to Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE), India has an installed energy capacity of more than 200 GW (gigawatt) and has set an ambitious plan to add 60 GW of thermal and nuclear power capacity, 62 GW of hydro capacity and 175 GW of renewable energy generation capacity by 2022. To cope up with future energy demands, India needs to focus on and implement some major changes for transformation.

In order to meet India’s growing energy demand, it is important to not only increase electricity-generating capacity, preferably through renewable sources but also use energy efficiently. Though energy conservation and energy generation go hand in hand, the former is less expensive. It is possible to achieve a better result in conservation, if commercial building, industries and communities use equipment with updated electrical standards along with practicing regular energy consumption audits.

The government now needs to step in and help push the sustainability agenda further by promoting the development and use of eco-friendly products. Government can also encourage the environmental / energy efficiency labeling and ratings of products. These moves will definitely open up the market for eco-friendly products making India more competitive on this front. There needs to be a focus on demand side energy management through policy and institutional mechanisms. It is essential that the financing of energy efficiency and attractiveness be ensured. The business model for energy efficiency needs to be strengthened by giving targets to distribution companies to reduce consumption by enhancing efficiency and reduce T&D losses. Electricity distribution companies should start promoting demand side management. Just as they sell electricity, they should pay for / incentivize saving electricity as well.

It is important to set minimum standards of efficiency for all electrical appliances including motors. A higher depreciation for energy efficient equipment and not just for renewable energy equipment and a lower excise duty will also encourage the adoption of energy efficiency products.

Sustainable construction is another important area to look at. The commercial buildings sector in India faces a series of challenges that will define the way we think of buildings in the years to come. Buildings have to comply with strict sustainability standards in order to keep energy consumption low and flexibility high. The ESCO model of financing should be promoted for enhancing efficiency in existing buildings. Measurement and verification protocols for existing buildings (without escalating costs) need to also be put in place.

Energy and water have a significant inter dependent relationship commonly known as the water-energy nexus. Energy is critical for water as well. For example, most water supply systems, both urban and rural require power to distribute water through pipe networks and farmers need power to run pump sets and irrigate their fields. Power is also required to take away and manage wastewater.

On the other hand, water is critical for energy. This co-dependence of water and energy leads to them interacting at multiple points. Considering that the most profligate consumer of water and also the most inefficient is agriculture, a lot of focus is required on this sector. The agriculture sector is the largest user of water and given that, it takes energy to pump and transport water they are also one of the largest users of free or subsidized energy. Around 60 percent of irrigated agriculture in India depends on pumped groundwater.

It is therefore imperative that we in India wake up to the fact that we need to approach the water-energy nexus in a holistic manner, especially as we know that the demand for water and energy will increase substantially as the country urbanizes and more people move above the poverty line.

A little less known fact is that pumps account for a massive 10% of the world’s electricity consumption – and a lot of this is wasted. Consumers can make a drastic change in their energy consumption by taking a simple but effective step – that is by the optimal usage of energy efficient technologies. We could save around 4% of the world’s total electricity consumption – equivalent to the residential electricity consumption of 1 billion people, if people were to switch to energy efficient pumps. We can achieve this by ensuring that the minimum standards for motor and pumps are higher than the current BIS standards. Today, intelligent pumps & solutions are widely available in our market and they allow you to control, monitor and optimize your entire system to deliver high performance in demanding applications. Typical advantages of intelligent pump solutions are energy savings, lifetime improvements and system cost reductions.

It is understandable that for the development of the country, people require an uninterruptable flow of energy. No country can therefore afford to think of not using and generating sufficient energy. But at the same time, to cope up with the rising energy demands, we are responsible to take actions to fill the gap between the demand and supply of energy. It is time to wake up to the reality and consider implementing reliable energy efficient measures to satisfy the country’s appetite for energy in the coming decades.

The article was contributed by Mahathi Parashuram. She is Regional Head - Public Affairs, Communications & Relations for the Asia Pacific Region at ‎Grundfos

Author: sustainabilityoutlook