Energy efficiency is not just about saving energy, it’s about tackling economic, environmental and social issues at the same time. – Harry Veerhaar, Architect of global lighting strategy on energy and climate change
How does your day start... Mostly with phone alarm and sometimes snooze button? The water we use needs electric pumps, cooking and cleaning appliances and all electronic gadgets (including your phone) require grid electricity.
The electricity sector contributes to 40-50% to domestic greenhouse gas emissions. So this electricity, which is an integral part of our life, should be judiciously used.
Coal is one of the most carbon intensive fossil fuel. And the emissions from currently operating coal plants for electricity in the world already surpass the emissions budget for 1.5°C temperature rise. Additionally, some products like generators use diesel and other petroleum products contributing not just to emissions but also to Air Pollution.
India, China, Turkey, Vietnam and Indonesia are the 5 countries where 73% of the new coal-powered capacity is being constructed or planned. This is literally adding fuel to the fire!
Current electricity demand in India is 1400 TWh and is expected to rise by more than twice to 2500 TWh by 2030! And the major chunk of this demand will arise from cities and urban development. And we need to act quickly and prudently for a comfortable future.
RIR is the Key
The ‘Reduce-Improve-Replace’ (RIR) [Sant 2012] framework can be used to meet electricity demand in a sustainable, reliable, economical and secure manner. We need to –
Reduce consumption towards making energy distribution more equitable and improve quality of supply
Improve end-use efficiency by awareness about reducing demand, getting rid of generators through continuous electricity supply, use more efficient devices requiring less wattage and adopt smart metering options
Replace fossil fuels with Renewable Energy sources and integrate them in the electricity grid
The Way Ahead
Technologies like Solar PV rooftop systems, small wind generators, energy efficient appliances, lithium ion batteries, electric vehicles and advanced smart meters are becoming easily available in the markets because they are the cheaper and more prudent options.
We can benefit a lot from these technologies as consumers, if we are aware about them. This transition will, in turn, affect electricity demand, prices and greenhouse emissions.
Thus, a comprehensive plan is required to rapidly phase out coal-based electricity production, increasing use of renewable energy sources, improving energy efficiency of products and reducing energy demand that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Shift to Renewable Energy
The shift to a cleaner energy economy won’t happen overnight, and it will require tough choices along the way. But the debate is settled. Climate change is a fact. – Barack Obama, American Politician and the 44th President of the United States
Use of renewable energy sources will help India to balance expanding electricity demand and also achieving its climate target, simultaneously. Choosing rightly from several alternatives like Solar and Wind energy, Hydropower, Bio Gas, etc. can help to simultaneously meet our energy and climate targets.
Besides, India is committed to reduce the emissions intensity of its GDP by 33%–35% by 2030 below 2005 levels and to achieve 40% of electric power installed capacity from 'non-fossil fuel' energy sources like solar, wind and biomass by 2030.
There has been a dramatic decrease in renewable energy prices in the last few years. The costs have fallen faster than anyone predicted with record-low prices for solar and wind energy.
India faces an immense challenge of abolishing energy crisis and increasing its economic growth while being environmentally responsible. It will be more economical for State Governments to adopt clean energy than they pay more for new coal power. India should take lead in promoting renewable energy technologies for a sustainable future.
The energy consumption will increase to at least double or double-and-a-half by 2030 in India. Thus the sources of energy we, as one of the highest carbon-emitting nation, utilize will play a significant role in global Climate Change Mitigation efforts.
Integrating the use of clean energy technologies with energy efficiency will provide a concrete step in making Pune a sustainable city.