EESL steering India’s energy efficiency drive

Venkatesh Dwivedi, Director (Projects), Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL) gives update on EESL’s initiatives for achieving energy efficiency through its programs for LED lighting, proposed roll-out of electric vehicles (EVs) and charging infrastructure, procurement of smart meters performance, and outlook for the sector in an email interaction with Electrical India.

What is your opinion the current state of the power sector?

Power sector in India is undergoing a transformation with access to electricity being provided to all households. However, the financial health of the Distribution Companies (DISCOMs) continue to be a cause for concern with the main reason being the high AT&C losses.

The Government of India is working towards addressing two key challenges before the sector. Billing efficiency – the Ministry of Power has issued ministerial guidance to all the states, which stipulates that the entire metering of over 38 crore consumers’ needs to be shifted to smart meters on a pre-paid mode. This move has the potential to transform the financial condition of the sector.

Agriculture subsidies – Leveraging the potential of solar energy, schemes like KUSUM can incentivise solar agriculture pumps installation in a manner that it is scalable and has incentives for DISCOMs, farmers and investors alike.

Can you please shed light on impact of EESL’s programs for LED lighting?

In one line we can summarise and say that the programmes like Unnat Jyoti by Affordable LEDs for All (UJALA) programme and Street Lighting National Programme (SLNP) have not just transformed the industry but also transformed consumer behaviour, in their acceptance to energy efficient technologies.

EESL adopted an innovative mass procurement strategy, which lowered the manufacturing cost of the LED bulbs. The benefit of this price reduction has been passed on to the consumers. Consumers benefited with reduced bill through usage of LED bulbs, DISCOMs and ULBs benefited with increased savings. Most importantly, the nation benefited with significant reduction in CO2 emission. UJALA has led to an estimated GHG emission reduction of 36.91 million tonnes CO2 per year and SLNP has led to an estimated GHG emission reduction of 4.23 million tonnes CO2 per year.

We are now replicating the revolution brought in by the LED programmes to our other programmes like smart meters, e-mobility, trigeneration, rural LED lighting and decentralised solar plants.

What is the role of EESL in proposed roll-out of electric vehicles (EVs) and charging infrastructure? According to you, what are some of the key challenges that need to be overcome?

The government has taken the leadership in driving India’s transition to e-mobility. Significant progress has been made with the evolving policy landscape which has brought in the much-needed clarity for the industry. However, there is a need for greater public consciousness on the value propositions of EVs. It is important to build a robust e-mobility ecosystem in the country by incorporating innovative business models.

Our e-mobility vision entails procuring and deploying electric vehicles in government offices across India. Towards, EESL has completed the procurement of 10,000 e-cars. Besides this, we are also exploring synergies with various urban local bodies to develop a robust public charging infrastructure for EVs, so that customers don’t have to commute long distances for their next car battery fuel-up. After New Delhi, we have joined hands with various municipal bodies such as Ahmedabad, Jaipur and Chennai to set up public charging infrastructure, deploy EVs on contract basis and facilitate their e-mobility transition. Gradually, we will put up public charging stations across 11 cities.

Furthermore, the Government of India is working towards large-scale commercialisation of indigenous battery technologies to achieve economies of scale for lithium battery manufacturing in India. Such initiatives will benefit both the battery manufacturing industry and the automobile industry.

The intersection of proactive policy, an agile mobility ecosystem, and compelling consumer use cases will drive India’s successful transition to e-mobility.

What kind of response have you experienced for smart meter procurement drive? What are the future plans?

The response from the states and industry has been encouraging. EESL has awarded the LoA for procurement of 1 crore smart meters and system integrators and has floated another tender for 50 lakh smart meters. Till date, 3 lakh smart meters have been installed in the state of Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Bihar and NDMC-Delhi. Under EESL’s Smart Meter National Programme, NDMC has become the first municipal body to have all their consumers with access to smart meters without any upfront investment from NDMC.

What is the overall energy saving achieved as the result of efforts of EESL initiatives?

EESL programmes have cumulatively saved over 50 billion kWh of energy and have helped obviate 10,000 MW of peak demand. These programmes have reduced India’s CO2 emissions by over 40 million tonnes annually.

EESL aims for measurable progress in the global movement towards achieving energy sustainability and strengthening India’s energy security.

What is EESL’s outlook for the power sector for the near future?

As mentioned earlier, power sector in India is undergoing a transformation with access to electricity being provided to all households, enabling 24X7 power to all. This is being further augmented with infusion of renewable energy.

As India’s renewable capacity increases, the need for a robust ancillary service ecosystem will become more pronounced than ever. To support the renewable target of 175 GW, we will witness a lot of progress in developing commensurate ancillary services such as energy storage systems.

With the push by Government of India towards implementation of smart meters in the next few years, the DISCOMs will experience the benefit of the technology, leading to marked improvement in their financial health. Furthermore, this will direct the consumer behaviour towards efficient usage.