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Energy Conservation: Where Do We Stand?

  • 24 Dec 2022

India marks December 14 as National Energy Conservation Day, so it is essential to discuss energy conservation and the need for renewable energy. Energy conservation refers to the efforts made to ensure that energy is used efficiently by either using less energy for a particular constant purpose (switching off lights and fans when not being used) or reducing the use of a particular service that uses energy (driving less and using public transport instead). Energy conservation is a conscious individual effort; it leads to energy efficiency at the macro level. The end goal of energy conservation is to reach towards attaining sustainable energy.

Here is a look at India's macro efforts of undertaking renewable and sustainable energy production.

The world is in a transition phase, and energy is central to it. India has been responsible for almost 10% of the increase in global energy demand since 2000. India's energy demand in this period has almost doubled, pushing the country's share in global demand up to 5.7% in 2013 from 4.4% at the beginning of the century. The primary energy demand in India has grown from about 441 Mtoe (Million or Mega tonnes of oil equivalent) in 2000 to about 775 Mtoe in 2013. This demand is expected to increase from about 1250 (estimated by International Energy Agency) to 1500 (estimated in the Integrated Energy Policy Report) million toe in 2030.

Current Scenario of the Power Sector in India

The National Mission for Enhanced Energy Efficiency (NMEEE) is one of the eight missions under the National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC).

NMEEE aims to strengthen the market for energy efficiency by creating a conducive regulatory and policy regime and has envisaged fostering innovative and sustainable business models for the energy efficiency sector.

In its meeting on June 24, 2010, the Cabinet approved the NMEEE document and funding for two years of the 11th Plan period (2010-12) with an outlay of Rs. 235.50 crore. An amount of Rs. 15.00 crore was earmarked in the approved outlay of Rs. 235.50 crores towards augmentation of the Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) 's corpus to meet the additional establishment expenditure during the 11th Plan. The continuation of NMEEE for the 12th Plan was approved by Cabinet on August 6, 2014, with a total outlay of Rs. 775 crores.

The mission seeks to upscale the efforts to unlock the market for energy efficiency, which is estimated to be around Rs. 74,000 crores and help achieve a total avoided capacity addition of 19,598 MW, fuel savings of around 23 million tonnes per year and greenhouse gas emissions reductions of 98.55 million tonnes per year at its full implementation stage.

The activities during the 11th Plan period created the institutional and regulatory infrastructure. The implementation framework of NMEEE was prepared after extensive stakeholders consultation with relevant Ministries of the Government of India, Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC), State governments, Industry associations such as the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI), Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), etc., independent experts from academia such as IITs, research organisations, public and private financial institutions, NGOs, etc. The NMEEE spelt out four initiatives to enhance energy efficiency in energy-intensive industries, which are as follows:

  • Perform Achieve and Trade Scheme (PAT), a market-based mechanism to enhance the cost-effectiveness in improving the energy efficiency in energy-intensive industries through certification of energy saving which can be traded.
  • Market Transformation for Energy Efficiency (MTEE), for accelerating the shift to energy-efficient appliances in designated sectors through innovative measures to make the products more affordable.
  • Energy Efficiency Financing Platform (EEFP) for creating mechanisms to help finance demand-side management programmes in all sectors by capturing future energy savings.
  • Framework for Energy Efficient Economic Development (FEEED) for developing fiscal instruments to promote energy efficiency.

Renewable Energy in India

The path towards zero carbon and energy efficiency is not paved with government reforms alone. The projects which have also contributed towards it are:

  1. Auroville - One of the largest communities to use and promote renewable energy technologies.
  2. Shunya - The self-sustaining net-zero energy home.
  3. TERI - Office building-cum-guest house

Other projects like the airport and staff housing colony of Kargil, two energy-efficient and green buildings from two diverse climate zones, and more are some stellar examples of sustainably built energy-efficient structures undertaken by the construction community more as a responsibility than as an adoption of the by-laws.

India ranks third globally with 146 buildings and spaces with a LEED certification. IGBC has over 7,000 projects registered, while GRIHA counts over 2,000 projects. These numbers show a promising sign that a significant number of building projects and spaces have prioritised energy efficiency.

Renewable energy could play a significant role in decarbonising India's energy and power sector as the costs of renewable energy systems are falling, and technology is continuously improving. The government is cooperative, and there are tremendous opportunities for investment. However, to accelerate the adoption of renewable energy, the government would have to consider several factors, such as developing favourable policy regimes and regulatory frameworks, providing financial incentives and capital subsidies, and streamlining approvals and clearance procedures through a single-window clearance mechanism.

Steps Taken by India to Promote Renewable Energy in India

Our country has made impressive headway in recent years towards affordable clean energy. From 2000 to 2018, about 700 million people received access to electricity. The government has been continually working towards encouraging the shift from biomass fuel in cooking – which has been identified as a significant contributor to indoor pollution – towards clean cooking both with LPG and solar power. India's other ambitious reforms include the decision to open the national oil and gas markets and allow private-sector investments in coal mining. These steps are vital from the point of view of energy security and attaining energy efficiency.

From the construction point of view, the Energy Conservation Building Code (ECBC), last revised in 2017, is estimated to help achieve a 50 per cent reduction in energy use by 2030 (ORF).

Another promising initiative has been the Smart Cities Mission, first announced in 2015. Reports have shown that the completed projects have provided not just social and economic benefits, especially to the marginalised sectors of the society in the targeted areas, but also have some cities setting up good examples of driving sustainable and environment-conscious departments.

Future of Renewable Energy in India

The Energy Conservation Amendment Bill, 2022:

The Energy Conservation Act 2001 provides a framework for regulating energy consumption and promoting energy efficiency and conservation. The Act has set up the Bureau of Energy Efficiency to recommend regulations and standards for energy consumption. These apply to appliances, vehicles, industrial and commercial establishments and buildings. Efforts on these fronts lower the energy generation requirement and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. These also have positive implications for energy security in India, which relies on imports to meet some of its energy needs.

During the COP-26 summit in 2021, India made the following commitments which may be relevant for energy efficiency efforts:

(i) Reducing total projected carbon emissions by one billion tonnes by 2030.

(ii) Reducing the economy's carbon intensity by 45% by 2030 over 2005 levels.

Carbon intensity is the volume of carbon emissions per unit of GDP. In addition, India aims to have 500 GW of non-fossil energy capacity and meet 50% of its energy requirements from renewable energy by 2030.

Against this backdrop, the Energy Conservation (Amendment) Bill 2022 was introduced in Lok Sabha in August 2022. The Bill was passed by Lok Sabha and is currently pending before Rajya Sabha.

The Bill seeks to amend the 2001 Act to:

(i) Facilitate the achievement of COP-26 goals.

(ii) Introduce concepts such as mandated use of non-fossil sources and carbon credit trading to ensure faster decarbonisation of the Indian economy.


If we were asked, "where does our 'energy' to work come from"? We would probably reply from the food that we eat.

Similarly, the energy used for cooking food comes from burning wood, coal, cow dung cakes, kerosene, gas and electricity. The energy to run our fan or T.V. comes from electricity. In this way, we are all aware of using energy in its different forms.

But have you ever stopped to think what the world would be like if there was no light or heat from the sun or if there was no electricity to light up your home? You are also aware that electricity can be in short supply, so there are power cuts for short/long durations.

So, this makes it more important to understand the concept of energy conservation.

Climate change is a global problem, and the conservation of the environment is a social responsibility. The infrastructure sector has massive potential to accelerate our country's journey towards its net-zero goals – a fact that the real estate, construction and building design community has taken seriously. The sector has played a massive role in shaping our economy's growth, and it also plays a significant role in shaping the future. As the populace gears up today to celebrate Earth Hour – by turning off all the non-essential lights to create awareness about Climate Change and show their solidarity – let us, as an industry, recognise the responsibility we all have on our shoulders, which is larger than a one-hour initiative, but more a 24×7 effort.

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