4 electrical appliances use up to 22% of power!

Energy.jpgMy working assumption is that the power usage in India and Pakistan are rather similar. Both countries have similar life and work styles, and even though India is much more industrialized than Pakistan, there is a significant small/cottage industry in both countries, as well as an abundance of small service-oriented businesses. Additionally, the souces of power in both countries are rather similaras well, from hydro (water) to thermo generation plants.

Hence, recent comments on Indian energy consumption (and challenges) from Mark Ginsberg, who is a senior executive board member of the newly created US Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) Board of Directors, are quite interesting also from a Pakistani point of view.

Mark is a veteran in energy conservancy, having earlier served as Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Office of Building Technology, State and Community Programs, where he oversaw a comprehensive set of programmes to make buildings, equipment and appliances more energy efficient; support state, community and low income energy programmes; and pave the way for a healthy and prosperous future through high efficiency research and development, building codes and appliance standards. His portfolio in the current position includes: energy efficiency, renewable energy, and climate change technologies.

Here s what he had to say:

India, China and the US are power hungry nations, perpetually needing huge quantities of oil. Do you see any conflict between these nations as they try to source their energy needs?

There’s a limited amount of oil. Scientists still don’t agree on how much oil there is and how much there will continue to be, but we know that at some point it will be increasingly difficult and expensive to get to. So I think all three nations need to be looking at the alternatives.

The alternatives that we see for transportation fuels include biomass. I would love to see a quantum leap in India and China particularly specially as you have started producing your own vehicles. Make them flexible fuel from the start, so that can use ethanol, or E85 , not just hybrid electric or gasoline, but hybrid E85 flexible fuel, so that they can use ethanol in 85 per cent concentration.

and on India’s energy needs:

What you are saying that it has be a combination of increasing efficiency as well as increasing the supply of power?

It really is as simple as that. It’s not rocket science. You want to produce more electricity from renewable resources, and reduce your waste in what you do use, so that it goes further.

For example, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California did some research on India’s energy situation, and they found that four energy consuming products alone use about 22 per cent of the electricity produced in India: refrigerators, motors, window A/Cs, distribution transformers.

We know that there are high efficiency motors, we know that there are better efficiencies in the other products as well. The analysis that the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory did said that nationwide, you can save 2.5 per cent of all the electricity with just those four products.

If you save 2.5 per cent, it would save a huge sum of money for consumers. We estimate that at $5.5 billion, which could go to better purposes. But also think about 2.5 per cent less electricity used.

Your outages will be less, your productivity would go up, businesses would not be as interrupted, and because electricity is fairly heavily subsidized in India, you’d be able to put that 2.5 per cent into more productive economic development issues.

So, with just four products, you get 2.5 per cent, imagine if your energy efficiency in lighting and buildings and appliances, all the things that use energy, so that we can really reduce consumption.

How expensive would this be, given that India is looking for cheaper, low-cost housing?

I am not an expert on India housing, and I hope to be able to learn something during my visit. In the US, in a typical housing subdivision, we estimate that the cost can be 10 to 20 per cent more to make the house highly energy efficient and moving towards zero energy.

In America, the houses are about $100,000 to $200,000. So 20 per cent is not that big an issue. And when you think about the reduced electricity utility costs, within the life cycle of that home, it may be net savings. Plus you get the benefits to the environment, the economy will be growing because you will have a new generation of new efficient products, and you’ve got better health in the houses.

It turns out that buildings that are more energy efficient aren’t as drafty, so kids don’t get respiratory diseases as much. And businesses that are in energy efficient buildings are more productive. It’s common sense. If an office space is too hot or too cold, badly lit, people aren’t as productive.

In schools, we’ve done some research and found that scores go up in better quality schools where the temperature is right and the air turnover is correct and lighting is good. So in addition to just the economics, it has wonderful side benefits. To me, it makes obvious good sense.

Assuming the same four appliances are also hogging up so much power in Pakistan, in addition to power thefts and losses in transmission, what can we do about it? Would education be enough (that seems to be what government is relying on via television and radio ads)? I doubt it. We may need to push for innovations that also allow for mor eefficient energy usage in our homes and offices. These innovations would come not just in energy production side, but also from the energy consumption side: efficient building design, recycling, efficient room cooling systems, solar cooking and water heating systems, etc. The race is on.


One Response to 4 electrical appliances use up to 22% of power!

  1. Ramesh Balakrishnan says:

    Great interview and some very insightful analysis of the causes for the chronic power shortage in India. India’s power sector lacks vision, long term planning and has a lobsided policy framework tha rewards farmers with subsidized power while gouging large industry and residential consumers. The industry needs deregulation, private investment and more conservation measures if it needs to grow. Rolling power cuts are a major issue and a common occurence in India’s largest cities. Politicians need to leave vision and planning to the pros and stay out of meddling into the affairs of the power companies.

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