Are efficiency programs an answer to India’s growing energy demand?

The study explores how behavioural energy efficiency can curb the impact of India’s increasing energy consumption; Potentially save customers 1700 to 5100 crore annually

India is on track to be one of the fastest-growing economies in the world over the next several decades. It’s estimated this expansion will drive India’s building sector energy consumption up 2.7 percent per year from 2015 to 2040. This is more than twice the global average, with residential accounting for 70 percent of this demand. A new study jointly undertaken by Oracle Utilities and Alliance for an Energy Efficient Economy (AEEE) examined the implications of this growth on energy availability and increased carbon emissions, as well as the potential behavioural energy efficiency programs can have on balancing supply and demand. 

“While this growth in electricity demand is inevitable in light of India’s economic progress, it’s essential to consider solutions that allow electricity distribution utilities to cater to the energy requirement of the population and the economy without overloading the energy system and adding carbon and ecological footprints by embracing energy efficiency as the first fuel. This would go a long way in supporting the government to achieve India’s climate change commitments and Sustainable Development Goals,” said Satish Kumar, president and executive director, AEEE. “International experience suggests that with legal, regulatory and policy support, demand-side management (DSM) programmes can offer significant opportunity to tame the rising electricity demand in the buildings sector which would help the consumers save their energy bills”

Behavioural energy efficiency programmes engage customers with personalized energy insights and targeted actions that can help them save both energy and money. When well-orchestrated, their impact on energy consumption patterns is significant enough to help flatten the load curve at a grid-wide scale. In fact, international energy efficiency projects, such those happening with the Japan Ministry of Environment and Exelon in the United States have been proven to achieve on average 1-3 percent energy savings per household by sending residential consumers Home Energy Reports (HERs). 

Preliminary assessment of India’s behavioural energy efficiency potential, based on this international experience, indicates energy savings could reach 3400 to 10200 GWh per annum by 2030, which translates to about 1800 to 5300 ktCO2e of yearly GHG mitigation, and customer cost savings in the range ₹ 1700 to 5100 crore annually. 

BSES Rajdhani Power Limited (BRPL) and Oracle —in coordination with two lakh domestic utilities — are currently testing the first territory-wide Home Energy Report (HER) programme in India.

Pioneered by Oracle Opower, these reports - which are delivered via paper, the web, or mobile devices depending on the programme - use a mix of data analytics and behavioural science to not only help utility customers better understand their energy usage, but also empower them to take steps to adopt more energy conscious behavior and benefit from lower energy usage and therefore lower bills. 

“India’s aggressive growth and the resulting increase in energy demand will require deep investments in both supply and demand-side clean energy innovation in order to achieve its aggressive climate change goals,” said Marisa Uchin, vice president of global regulatory affairs Oracle Utilities. “Energy efficiency, otherwise known as Demand Side Management, offers scalable and easily customizable programs that engage customers to become more active participants in their energy use, thus cutting both emissions and cost. These programmes, particularly those helping residential customers, are limited in India today, however, they represent a significant untapped potential for achieving grid-wide energy efficiency gains. BRPL is currently taking a revolutionary first step in bringing these programmes to India.”

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