Energy Efficiency Adoption – Why So Slow?

In contrast to renewable energy (both renewable power and renewable fuels) – many of which are economically unsustainable without government subsidies and even after such subsidies have long payback periods – energy efficiency and conservation concepts have much better RoIs and payback periods.

Some of these energy efficiency measures have payback periods of less than a year! It is thus surprising that most Indian companies (especially those running factories) have not implemented as many of these as possible.

What could be the reason for such a slow adoption when someone could show them the money?

What measures could be taken to increase the adoption rate?

Your thoughts are welcome

Posted in: Uncategorized

Pen down your thoughts (7) →
 

7 Comments

  1. PARTHASARATHY BASU September 12, 2012

    Hi Narsi

    I can think of four reasons for the failure or slow-pick up of renewable energy. These are my thoughts and hypothesis, some of them would need validation with proper data but still hopefully, it will stir some discussion.

    1) Lack of clarity of economic sustainability: I am yet to come across a comprehensive document which lays down the economics of renewable energy projects (wind, solar, algae, biomass etc…) talking about variations in economics due to scale of operations, Govt. policies. I believe that there is no clarity on ROI and payback period of projects in India – how does it compare with other countries? What is driving this difference? Overall, message is that this is still economically unsustainable – entities are doing it as CSR. As a result companies are hesitant to go full-throttle in it.

    Solution: Renewable energy focussed agencies need to come forward with research papers with live examples showing the economics of both successful and failed projects. These agencies are the ones closest to data – share with the public (retail, industrialists etc…). Websites, magazines (mainstream magazines), news channels are the media to release the data so that people don’t miss it. Highlight the policy difference that is driving the slow-upatake to give Govt. enough ground to change policies.

    2) Absence of supportive Govt. policies to create a ecosystem: Govt. needs to encourage an ecosystem to support the growth of the industry. Let us look at the supply side – Govt. has fiscal incentives in terms of long tax breaks for production of renewable power, but what about incentives for power transmission (PTC primarily) or distributors who have to invest to transport it from source to usage sites. Though it might seem far-fetched but what about creating a Govt. entity to invest in mass production in these resouces – solar panels, wind-towers to help drop prices. China is able to do it – why cant we do it? This would be social investment with an eye on the future. Govt. policies are still lacking when it comes to Green Buildings – one of the biggest power consumers (residential and office complexes). Incentives are not yet strong enough for the builders to invest additional amounts for making their building efficient (worthy of LEEDS certification). A look at the automobile industry suggest that we lack the technology to use diesel in a way so that pollution is minimised (BMW, Audi, Merc engines of the world run on diesel in EU and yet meet all Euro pollution norms! )Why can’t we incentivise easy adoption of such technologies? Now let us visit the demand section – we have three major consumers: Business establishments (office, retail shops and malls), Factories and residential complexes. Frankly, people at all these sections feel the need but have NO CLUE about the policies, what to do and how to do it (based on discussion with an active society member of my resident colony)? Let me take retail customers (residential) – with so many apartments coming up – solar panels can be put up at roof-tops, on the sides (there are thin silicon wafers which can be put up anywhere) to generate power to light up the street-lights – take it one level higher and these societies can do waste management, rain-water harvesting etc… – but question being, why would they do it? What is the incentive? How do we do it? There are no clear organisations/guidelines for it.

    Solution: We need to look at the entire drivers of clean tech, compare policies with EU and align irrespective of vested interests. Town-planning needs to change its vision to create sustainable towns for future – through water harvesting, waste management or local power production.

    3) Lack of requisite media focus: No one in media talks about the impending energy crisis in terms of numbers and the impact it can have on a common man’s life and suggest what should they do about it? Articles like these should be on page 1 of a paper – they should take local examples (say a colony in Bangalore) as it brings the situation to life rather than taking national level data. The pinch is lost at that level. The media is quick to highlight the MIT tech innovations but what about putting up a rural innovation in the villages which is changing the landscape in a small but powerful way for the local people?

    Solution: Media needs to include this a part of mainstream news and it cannot be a special feature on their channels or papers. Celebrate local success stories, impact created – this will spur more people to action. CNN-IBNs’ “Citizen Journalist” is a great program exposing the chinks in the society – can we have similar programs on sustainability?

    4) Lack of action on ground: We have seminars, white papers and discussions online (quite similar to what I am doing right now) but words are not translating to action. We are happy living the life enjoying the conomic growth and prosperity without realising that this is coming at a huge environmental cost. We, Indians need to be driven (historical legacy, though with the new generation it is changing albeit in small way) – drivers of change are few and need support. However, if we see our neighbours doing it, we would be inclined to do it as well. A small example – carpooling, using both sides of paper as concept that have been there but we hardly follow it as it is deemed inconveneint.

    Solution: Need to ‘walk the talk’ now and we can do it at our places only – homes, office, schools, shops. Schools can take the step to go green by installing solar panels, biomass to produce energy (from old notebooks, exam papers or recycle them) in their own buildings so that the ideas come to life from science exhibitions. Students would be more encouraged to ‘Go green’ this way than participating in ‘Green Walks’ with placards in their hands. At home, we can think of recycling paper, preparing compost from house garbage, minimise use of automobiles. We need to talk about what are we doing on our own to increase green cover – this will get our neighbours talking and then their neighbours creating a powerful domino effect.

    I am quite optimistic about adoption. We are yet to reach the inflexion point. However demand is slowly pushing the industry to such measures. Live example would be the increase in setting-up of wind-mills by TN textile mills. Textile mills need cheap power, Govt. supply is erratic and hence to ensure consistent supply of cheap power – the major mills have invested in wind mills in small way but enough to meet their needs. Some of them are now earning revenue by selling power to TN SEB! This is encouraging, and hopefully, with time, need will lead to innovation and increased adoption.

    (reply)
  2. Kunal Gurbani September 12, 2012

    The reason is…….
    we seem to modernizing and developing with time……….but actually, we are not. For, the thinking is still the same. Resistance to change is still unavoidable. Moreover, even if one shows someone money, Guarantee goes missing due to lack of faith.

    Measures:
    The best measure to promote anything is, advertisement. The society is not competitive, when it comes to publicity. When we have achieved so much to prove the worth of renewable sources, why are we not showing it?

    As a student, for me, the boom of renewable sources was only till I was in the school. The reason is, I didn’t find any subject except EVS in the college which was optional.
    Everyone knows about and regards Nuclear power generation, Thermal power generation, etc. but only a few pay heed to solar power, or wind power generation. The reason is, we are being too extra honest. I feel that we ourselves are hyping the shortcomings that Solar energy can’t work in cloudy sky, wind energy can be used only at beaches and deserts, are expensive, etc. We know that these shortcomings could be avoided quite easily. Even then we hype about only these factors instead of keeping away the measures!!!

    I am saying this, because I found it in one of the sites, displayed exactly the shortcoming, but the resolutions were not there.

    (reply)
  3. Balaji.S September 12, 2012

    Even if funds are provided, one has to scout for the technology know-how and skilled manpower when it comes to renewable energy.Payback periods are really long.Definitely it is not feasible to have returns before an year or so.

    If we want many people to follow this movement, first results have to be produced. Except the opulent wind energy and mammoth solar energy, biomass is a utter flop.Availability of raw materials are a constraint.

    Bigger market players have to pool in their human resources and should foray into this space.Simultaneously, the government has to foster young brains with the help of banks for start-ups.

    Warm Regards,
    Balaji.S

    (reply)
  4. Brajendra Mohan Singh September 12, 2012

    What I think is , using these renewable power and renewable fuels are really good.
    But, u see the ground reality is that the vast potential available with the industry to reduce its energy consumption is not being utilized.Its just easy to instal VFDs, energy efficient blades, energy efficient motors etc etc and its so cost effective also.

    (reply)
  5. Ankit Gupta September 12, 2012

    Hi,
    I think lack of awareness is the biggest reason that energy efficeint measures are not implemented. People are not aware that payback period can be less than year and they still have the old notion of high pay back period. Also there is one notion somewhere in mind that solar or renewable anergy willl not be as good as non-renewable energy. People don’t like to change and thats why they prefer already proven source of energy rather than taking risk in new technologies.

    For implementing, it should be made compulsary at starting. Without compulsion we won’t act (remember our school). for ex. china is able to control its population through coercion. When people start understanding its benefits, then only they will prefer.

    (reply)
  6. C.S.BALAJI September 12, 2012

    Many energy intensive industries dont have an exclusive energy manager or energy wing and mostly energy portfolio is handled by the engineering team. The practice would prevent the team to monitor and implement energy conservation measures seriously (as usually the team is tied up with their scheduled & break down maintenance tasks).

    An Exclusive energy wing with clear focus on energy related issues would do wonders as they can come out and submit specific viable energy conservation proposals to the board.The practice would enable the industries to inherit energy conservation as the culture rather considering it as an option.

    (reply)
  7. kanagaraj September 12, 2012

    What is the invest amount required to set up a solar street light system and how much can I get as subsidy

    (reply)

Leave a Comment

X
X

Name(*)

Email(*)

Mobile

Company Name

X

Name(*)

Email(*)

Mobile

Company Name

X

Name(*)

Email(*)

Mobile

Company Name