‘Energy efficiency is not just about lights or pumps, but about life and attitude’

 

While there are many technologies that provide us with energy, there are also technologies that help us with saving energy. The latter is gaining ground as more and more people are becoming aware of the conscious use of energy.

ApnaComplex along with The Indus Entrepreneurs (TiE)- CleanTech Special Interest Group and Indian Institute of Human Settlements, had organised an event on ‘Sustainable Apartments – Learn how to reduce energy bills of your association’ on September 21st, 2013. The event hosted people from different backgrounds – IT, the new section of people who have ‘quit IT’ to follow their passion, apartment RWAs, NGOs, academics.

Most of the resource persons who took part in the event presented some innovative ways in which an apartment can be planned in order to minimise and optimise the use of power.

Solar energy is the future

“Solar power seems to be the way if you are considering a sustainable source of energy. While initial investment on solar installations may seem high, the savings as a result of optimal energy usage realised as the years go by is also good,” says Dhanasheelan Thangavelan of Dhashan Energy Solutions Pvt Ltd, Bangalore. They offer energy audit and solar power solutions and services.

Thangavelan emphasised on the alarming usage of energy to simply pump up water to overhead tanks in apartment complexes and the need to replace the use of gensets (DG – diesel-powered gensets) with solar energy.

Another new learning from Thangavelan’s experience is to use DC loads whenever possible rather than storage of solar power in lead acid batteries and using this stored energy as AC power. “Storing power in the battery is inefficient and results in wastage of solar energy produced. Use existing DG backup. Don’t overinvest in batteries,” adds Thangavelan, who suggests solar PV solutions for 5-10KW that are ideal for clubhouses, villas or any large open space properties.

“For energy usage of 20KW, it’s most economical to arrive at a good hybrid (solar and wind) power solution,” says Arvind Tiwary, Co- chairman, Clean Tech SIG, TiE, Bangalore. This opened up a brief and interesting discussion about the possibilities of tapping wind energy in apartments. This is in experimental stages and could turn out be another urban renewable energy resource.

As per the 2007 report by MNRE (Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, India) :

Overall, India’s need for power is growing at a prodigious rate, annual electricity generation and consumption in India has increased by about 64% in the past decade, and its projected rate of increase (estimated at 8-10% annually, through the year 2020) for electricity consumption is one of the highest in the world.

Karnataka features among the top three states for having the potential to generate power from renewable sources of energy, as recorded by the Central Statistics Office, India. Karnataka Renewable Energy Development Corporation Ltd (KREDL) was formed in accordance with the recommendations of Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE). The Government of Karnataka nominated KREDL as the designated agency for implementation of Energy Efficiency in the state.

Ravindra Kori, Senior Technical Officer of KREDL present at the workshop provided information on the various subsidies that the government offers to promote renewable energy for domestic power consumption, and on how people can benefit from the government if they opt for alternative sources of energy. Information can be found on their website: http://www.kredlinfo.in/Subsidyrealse.aspx

Renewal energy can be grid-connected or off-grid. Grid-connected power does not require UPS batteries and connects directly to the BESCOM grid. But this requires a guaranteed minimum and stable supply. The power auditors can given more detail on how to set it up.

Off-grid (lighting/pumps/etc) is using the solar/wind to charge the battery pack for future use. These are now priced at Rs.5.5 per unit of power, against a Rs 18 per unit for diesel gensets. There is subsidy for both these options. There is also subsidy for solar power water heaters, even for apartments.

“Energy efficiency is not just about lights and pumps, there is more to it,” was a new perspective put forward by Sanjay Sridhar, who works with EMBARQ (World Resources Institute’s Center of Sustainable Transport). EMBARQ’s successful project at L&T South City and Adarsh Palm Retreat, Bangalore,gave an insight into how planning open public spaces to decongest traffic by making it pedestrian and cyclist friendly directly translates to saving energy. “It also makes way for a healthier and peaceful living and attitude,” believes Sridhar.

Reduction in motorised trips (reduced car usage), better quality of space/ environment are the factors that EMBARQ converts into numbers, thus measuring the impact of improving walkway designs, creating nodes for socialising and interaction and in making the best use of spaces for urban mobility that focuses on walkability and cycle friendly streets and roads.

Their MESOSCALE is based on the “Designing for People” concept, and gives us the hierarchy of transportation.

‘Energy audit required’

“But what really works is the fact that we do an energy audit and look at ways to reduce energy consumption itself before we plug in technology to save energy,” says Tiwary. He introduces us to Ravi Saxena, an IT professional who shares with us his story of reducing energy usage at his apartment complex ‘Concorde Midway’ – by powering off 3 out of 4 elevators during night, stopping running motors once an optimal amount of water is pumped into overhead tanks, minimising usage of lighting when and where not required.

He then looks at ways to make his apartment complex an energy efficient one by use of solar power, better lighting systems. It is a few people like him in every apartment complexes that get us thinking about our energy usage.

The forum concluded with a consensus that the energy audits are the starting points which bring forth the critical factor of technological practice which is ‘reduction in consumption’ and then ‘optimisation of energy usage with alternate energy resources.’ If this can be implemented at the stage of architectural design of urban residences (private, commercial and public) then we can also achieve a better quality of environment and living spaces.

Along with inputs from Tejaswi G.

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In the offing: Plans to produce solar power in Bangalore homes
Bengaluru college adopts solar power

About Shamala Kittane Subramanyan 24 Articles
Shamala Kittane is a freelance writer and avid cyclist.

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