Bureau of Energy Efficiency says it is likely to meet Plan target. Experts say claims far from truth
Energy efficiency is often called the low hanging fruit of climate change. Each unit of electricity saved is considered a unit less generated, which means less greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere. Under the 11th Five Year Plan, programmes promoting energy efficiency aim to save five per cent of energy consumption, or avoiding 10,000 MW addition in generation capacity.
The Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) in April claimed it is most likely to meet the Plan target since the avoided generation capacity recorded till December 2010 was 7,415 MW, equivalent to the generation capacity of two proposed ultra mega power plants in India (about 4,000 MW each). But experts say a closer look at the figure shows the actual saving is, in fact, much less.
According to Umashankar, energy researcher with Delhi nonprofit Centre for Science and Environment, who studied the energy saving reports released by BEE, more than two-thirds of the saving is due to the government scheme, Standards and Labeling (S&L). The scheme mandates star rating for some electrical appliances, the most efficient appliance gets five stars and the least efficient one star.
“The government assumes that without its labelling intervention the appliances would remain entirely inefficient in the market,” says Umashankar. The energy efficiency ratio of a one-star AC is 2.2. It was fixed in 2007 and was supposed to increase to 2.7 from 2010 onwards. But it has not yet been revised.
About half of the claimed 7,415 MW saving comes from air conditioners (ACs). But the Indian Association of Energy Management Professionals in Bengaluru believes the BEE claims are an “exaggerated estimation”. ACs sold today are compared to ACs that have zero-star, a market average before S&L started in 2007. “If BEE measures efficient appliances sold in a year against market study of average efficiency of the previous year, the real energy savings can be estimated,” says Sunil Sood, former president of the association. But BEE does not even make the market average consumption data available which is crucial to calculate the benchmark, he adds.
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