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New-age tech can help optimise India’s energy consumption trends

Sudhir Chowdhary
New age tech, India, energy consumption, Global Regulatory Affairs, Oracle Utilities, Oracle, industry news,  industrial sector, commercial sector, agriculture sector, AEEE

India’s power sector is one of the most diversified in the world and is witnessing growth like never before. However, the sector is challenged by meter tampering, power theft and inefficient use of electricity. “India needs a smarter mechanism in place by adopting new-age technology that can efficiently utilise the pattern of energy consumption among households and make it cost-effective for them,” Marisa Uchin, vice-president, Global Regulatory Affairs, Oracle Utilities, Oracle, tells Sudhir Chowdhary in a recent interview. Excerpts:

How do you see the Indian power sector’s challenges and the growing needs?

India has emerged as the world’s third-largest electricity producer and as of late last year, the country has a total installed power generating capacity of 3,46,048 MW. Being the largest importer of energy and efficient utility of per unit of energy, switching to renewable is the key. In addition to making power accessible, it also needs to be affordable for consumers. India’s energy sector is challenged by pilferage owing to tampering with meters and distribution lines. Power theft and inefficient use of electricity are other concerns where losses are over 20%. India needs a smarter mechanism that can efficiently utilise the pattern of energy consumption among households and make it cost-effective for them.

Where does India stand in consuming energy in an efficient way?

Indian domestic/residential electricity usage now outpaces growth in industrial, commercial and agriculture sectors. India’s residences, which increasingly avail many modern energy services such as cooling, clean cooking, lighting, and media access, are predicted to account for 85% of the country’s floor space by 2050. There is an urgent need to address this demand as it will put constraints on previously stretched national resources, posing serious social, local environmental and climate change-related burdens.

Tell us something about the recent study undertaken by Oracle Utilities, and its impact on potential behavioural energy efficiency in India?

India’s building sector energy consumption is expected to grow by an average of 2.7% per year from 2015 to 2040, more than twice the global average. Around 70% of this building sector energy demand comes from the residential sector. Oracle Utilities conducted a joint study in association with Alliance for an Energy Efficient Economy (AEEE) to examine the implications of growth on energy availability and increased carbon emissions. Through this, we examined the impact of potential behavioural energy efficiency programmes on balancing supply and demand. We’ve been running similar programmes at a global level and in some markets we are saving nearly 25 kw hours of energy every day and more than $2 billion.

We did a lot of localisation and tailor made this model to implement in the Delhi market. To make this successful, we got reactions from residential households to understand the impact of this programme. AEEE being the pre-eminent voice provided the right sources to do the investigation for this report. Leading experts from The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), Regulatory Assistance Project (RAP), Shakti Sustainable Energy Foundation offered their feedback for this report.

Basis this report, can you share top three recommendations to be more energy efficient?

It’s really important to have a clear and compelling policy framework in place. Firstly, we should allow the utility to recover the cost of spending money on energy efficiency. Secondly, there needs to be some investment in place that can align utilities and energy efficiency to focus on energy efficiency vs building more capacity. This has to be performance-oriented by rewarding them for actually doing energy efficiency over building a power plant. Thirdly, the credibility around energy efficiency, i.e., making sure there is a procedure to do measurement and verification. These methodologies are established and are easy to understand and deploy.