Dr. V. Prakash
[email protected] V. Prakash, Ph.D., has developed new means of Energy Efficiency Improvement measures in Electrical Motors, which form major part of the electrical load. The outcome of his research is particularly applicable to conditions prevailing in developing countries including India.

He has written articles highlighting the importance of Energy Efficiency in Tamil magazines under the pseudo name Gopal. His earlier articles in Tamil may be accessed here:

Moodimaraikkappatta unmaigal

Nam payanam ethai nokki

He is currently a professor in a reputed Engineering Institution in South India.

(Tamil version of this article can be downloaded HERE)

Tamil Nadu is facing an acute electrical power crisis. We demand that power be produced through any means and our demand be met somehow. Let us look at how Kerala, whose sources of power are limited, has brought down the power crisis in the past.

Switching to CFLs

The peak power demand in that state occurred during evening time. The peak demand could not be met by the Kerala State Electricity Board. Because of this, power cuts were regular.

For the same light output, Compact Fluorescent lamps (CFLs) consume less power (Watts) than Incandescent bulbs (ICBs). Therefore, the electrical energy (KWh or units) consumed is less. The cost of a CFL is over Rs. 120 in retail, whereas the cost of a ICB is under Rs. 15!

The use of ICBs was prevalent in Kerala. The reason was the higher cost of CFLs. Taking note of this, the government distributed two CFLs per household at the rate of Rs. 15 per CFL. In exchange for the two quality CFLs supplied, the government received two ICBs which were in working condition. The government provided the difference in the CFL cost as an advance amount. The reason for this was the knowledge that the difference will be met by the Clean Development Mechanism, under the Kyoto Protocol!

In 2010, the process of distribution of CFLs started in March 15 and the distribution of about 1.3 crore CFLs ended by August. The CFLs that may get damaged during the next 5 years will be replaced by the Kerala government. The government also explained how to safely handle the CFLs.

By this measure, the peak demand in Kerala reduced by 350 MW. In most houses, the electricity consumption per month reduces by more than 5 units. The amount of subsidy spent by the government has reduced!

As per the electricity demand reduced this way, Green House Gases of about 20 lakh tonnes that would be generated due to electricity production, during the project period of about 5 years itself has been avoided. Because of this, the government will earn 20 lakh carbon credits. This is a conservative estimate!

According to the Kyoto protocol, developed countries should meet a specified amount of ‘Carbon credit’ target. Because of this, the countries are very keen to purchase ‘Carbon credits’ from developing countries. The current value of a ‘Carbon credit’ is about Rs. 484, and it is expected to exceed Rs. 900. If the carbon credits are sold, the government will earn between Rs. 89 crores to Rs. 166 crores. The advance amount by the government was Rs. 95 crore. Hence, a profit of Rs. 71 crores through this means itself is possible!

Saving Electricity is cheaper, and much safer

Even if a new nuclear power station that is claimed to be green and clean, is established, for the 350 MW power generation, the construction cost itself would have been Rs. 2300 crores based on the construction cost disclosed by Government sources for Koodankulam Power Project. Added to this, will be the operational costs including fuel cost, security expenses etc.

If power demand was not reduced by the savings lamp scheme, and if power is procured from external sources like Power exchange (This is similar to stock exchange, where electricity can be sold or procured), every year atleast Rs. 518 crores would have to be spent to meet the 350 MW demand occurring during evening peak hours itself!

Saying no to these, the government has reduced 350 MW electricity demand by the Savings lamp scheme!

Even without carbon credits, the advance amount pumped in will be paid back within 6 months time.

The electrical savings by means of the above mentioned Energy Efficiency measure can be considered as a Virtual Generation. Such an electricity generation is reliable. It reduces most of the pollution that occurs due to conventional electricity generation. In this measure, we need not worry to plan to bury secretly the highly radioactive nuclear waste at a very high temperature under someone’s dwelling place.

Benefits of Savings Lamp Scheme in Tamil Nadu

Tamil Nadu has 150 lakh domestic electrical connections. Here too, Incandescent bulbs (ICBs) are prevalent in most households. Culturally, electrical peak load occurs not only in the evenings, but also in the mornings.

TANGEDCO (Tamil Nadu Electricity Board) says that in Tamil Nadu, if ICBs are replaced by CFLs, 500 to 600 MW electrical power could be saved during these peak load periods. This is a low estimate!

In Tamil Nadu, every day 600 to 700 MW power is procured from Power exchanges during these peak load periods. The average cost of electricity purchased is Rs. 11.60 per unit.

In Tamil Nadu, for the power demand to the tune of 500 to 600 MW due to non-implementation of savings lamp scheme has to be met by procuring power at this very high cost.

If calculations are made for evening hours alone, with the average cost of procurement from power exchanges, the government spends Rs. 741 to Rs. 889 crores. The economic burden of increasing electricity tariff occuring because of this also, falls on all the consumers irrespective of sectors like households, small scale industries, medium scale industries, large scale industries.

The Tamil Nadu government may implement the savings lamp scheme in the above mentioned State’s model! The maximum amount that has to be pumped for this as advance would be Rs. 360 crores. As the scheme is executed, power procured from the power exchange will reduce and hence the government can get back the amount within 6 months time. In addition, the government can receive atleast 40 lakh ‘carbon credits’. It can fetch anywhere between Rs. 194 crores to Rs. 360 crores!

Vision needed in framing Energy Policy

In the overall electrical consumption in India, the consumption by lighting is 22% and by electric motors by over 70%. The Savings lamp scheme in houses, is one among the many places including streets and offices, where energy efficient measures can be carried out in lamps.

Similar schemes as Energy Efficient Electrical Pumps, Energy Efficient Electrical Motors are being worked out in detail. In Tamil Nadu itself, there are surer means of saving 2000 MW at all times of the day. This can be done at least cost, within a short period of time, in a manner beneficial to all and the Earth.

Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Company is facing a huge Financial crisis. The aggregate losses amount to over Rs. 40,000 Crores and unmanageable debt of over Rs. 50,000 crores. If Energy Efficiency schemes are implemented, then there is a possibility that these losses and debts can be reduced.

While contemplating for the solution to the Energy crises, not limited to electricity but also applicable to other forms as Gas, Petrol, Diesel etc., developed countries recognize Energy Efficient measures as the primary source of generation. If such measures are implemented, then the amount of spending for energy by us will reduce.

If such measures are implemented, there is a possibility that the increasing tariffs (for energy) including that of electricity determined by Government/other agencies can be reduced.

It is sure that Energy produced by any other means, will not reduce the amount of money we spend for energy by means of these two measures.

The production, manufacturing, commercial, technological activities etc. needed for implementation of these measures lead to economic growth.

This is People’s Science, People’s Economy!

Even if energy is produced from any source, primarily energy should be efficiently used. Energy Efficiency will definitely lead to Energy Conservation. We mean by Energy Efficiency that for the same work, energy consumption can be reduced without affecting any productivity. It does not mean achieving Energy Conservation by following austerity measures.

Your kind attention, Planning commission! Vision should be like this! It is not enough to pay lip service by saying energy savings is important! If energy crises are not approached this way, it will be analogous to keep on pumping water for usage into an overhead tank with holes! It will be equivalent to keep on pumping air into a vehicle’s punctured tube!

Energy Modesty + Energy Efficiency + Renewable Sources of power, in the order of priority will lead to a Sustainable Energy Policy.


P.S.: Though the scheme is implemented in Kerala, it was chalked out by the Indian Government. Its name is ‘Bachat Lamp Yojana’. There is no financial obligation by the central government in this scheme!

This scheme is registered under the Clean Development Mechanism, one of the ‘flexibility mechanisms’ under the Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Due to reasons best known to them, neither the Central government bureaucrats nor the Central ministers nor the Government scientists have been aggressive in sensitizing the people of Tamil Nadu on the importance of this scheme that is really beneficial to the people.

According to National Productivity Council itself, Energy Efficiency itself can mitigate the entire present day Energy deficit at very low cost and within a short period of time. The return on investment for these measures will be within 3 years.

While thinking of alternative to Nuclear reactors, Energy Efficiency has almost remained an unsung alternative in India. This is in total contrast to all the developed which recognize Energy Efficiency measures as the primary means to reduce new energy generation requirements.