Energy Efficient Technologies

In India, the scope of domestic/home consumers embracing devices to curb excess/wasteful expend of electricity is immense. A large populace has modern day appliances and gadgets that plug into the AC supply, that, in turn, is an invitation for ‘smart’ devices to find their place in these homes. Standby power or vampire power is the “electricity” that you do not consume but you still pay for. Many appliances like television, set top boxes, music systems, computers, etc. consume electricity till they are switched off from the main plug point. And thus you may end up paying for something you did not use.

Introduction

The energy efficiency movement has gathered significant pace in the recent years. For instance, in United States, it is the third largest energy source, behind natural gas and coal. Energy efficiency has found meaningful implementation in every element of the electricity supply chain, from management of fuel that fires up power generation plants to device consumption end. While some of the initiatives are State-led, others are driven by the supply Utilities/Energy service companies and finally, the consumer, who decides on the choice of technologies to adopt to pare his Utility bill.

India Story

In India, the scope of domestic/home consumers embracing devices to curb excess/wasteful expend of electricity is immense. Policy measures have worked well. For instance, the State-led initiative by Bureau of Energy Efficiency to label appliances like refrigerators has raised consumer sensitisation and, in turn, demand for energy efficient products. The markets have, in turn, responded suitably to this stimulus.

However, there is more to be done. A large populace has modern day appliances and gadgets that plug into the AC supply, that, in turn, is an invitation for ‘smart’ devices to find their place in these homes.

Stand by Power and Applications, Standby power or vampire power is the “electricity” that you do not consume but you still pay for. Many appliances like television, set top boxes, music systems, computers, etc. consume electricity till they are switched off from the main plug point. And thus, you may end up paying for something you did not use.

The number of consumer electronics and communication technologies owned by common households have been increasing significantly in the recent decades. These devices draw “standby power” continuously 24 hours a day, even when they are switched off. The only way to prevent standby power consumption is to unplug the device completely; however, that is inconvenient and inefficient. Therefore, millions of electrical appliances are continuously wasting energy in standby mode. Individual electrical appliance does not drain a large amount of standby power; however, the increasing number of electrical appliances in common households accumulates to a significant amount of power drawn.

Not all these ‘plug-in’ gadgets need the accompaniment, especially those that are required to be connected all the time, for example, refrigerators. However, there are others, like computer printers, that offer non critical service at home, and don’t require to be plugged in all the time. However, the consumer friendly devices nature of appliances allows them to descend to a ‘standby’ mode, where from, activation to full power and use is quick. The standby mode results in electricity wastage. Therefore, eliminating standby power consumption introduces significant impacts to the environment, sustainable resources, and energy consumption.

Requirement of cutting standby power

Over the last few years, the global energy efficiency market has risen up to the challenge to curb this loss, offering Smart Power Strips that offer to switch down the ‘Standby Mode’ without human intervention, letting sensors do the job. The sensor laden device detects when the room is unoccupied for that matter, switches down the appliance after a prolonged period of non-use. The potential for such devices to save wasteful expenditure of electricity is significant. For example, since non-critical appliances account for around 20 per cent of domestic electricity consumption, the savings would be substantial. This, of course, assumes that every household uses smart devices. That, however, can happen provided the cost of such devices significantly reduces. Currently, such devices are available for around 2,500 INR. Moreover, the economic inducement for energy service companies to sell these devices becomes attractive.

Challenge-1:

Develop household instrument/ devices (Example: smart power strips) that can help minimise or remove the stand-by losses. The cost of production of the same should be less than INR 250/ piece. (We may also consider incorporating a Surge power stabiliser in the same strip keeping in mind the power quality in India).

Industry-cold chain

The scope for implementing energy efficiency solutions in the manufacturing industry is immense. The continuous and intense nature of use of electricity-driven machines leaves plenty of room for reducing consumption, wasteful and otherwise. As the manufactured products are moved from the production centers to the demand centers, the case for energy efficiency raises its head especially when the goods are perishable, as is the case with food products. At a more primary level, fruits and vegetables from the farms need to be stored during seasonal production for distribution round the year. The agriculture produce is refrigerated in Cold chains that serve to link between production centres and market.

Cold Chain Applications

India is the largest producer of fruits and second largest producer of vegetables in the world. In spite of that per capita availability of fruits and vegetables is quite low because of post harvest losses which account for about 25 percent to 30 percent of production. Besides, quality of a sizable quantity of produce also deteriorates by the time it reaches the consumer. This is mainly because of perishable nature of the produce which requires a cold chain arrangement to maintain the quality and extend the shelf-life if consumption is not meant immediately after harvest. In the absence of a cold storage and related cold chain facilities, the farmers are being forced to sell their produce immediately after harvest which results in glut situations and low price realization. Sometime farmers do not even get their harvesting and transportation costs what to talk of the cost of production or profit. As a result, our production is not getting stabilized and the farmers after burning fingers in one crop switch over to another crop in the subsequent year and the vicious cycle continues. Our farmers continue to remain poor even though they take risk of cultivating high value fruits and vegetable crops year after year. A cold storage facility accessible to them will go a long way in removing the risk of distress sale to ensure better returns.

Requirement of Cold Chain in India

The changing food habits are discernible. There has been a positive growth in ready –to-serve beverages, fruit juices and pulps, processed fruits and vegetables products, i.e., dried or preserved and dehydrated vegetables and fruits such as sauces, preserved onions, cucumbers and gherkins, green pepper in brine, dehydrated garlic and ginger powder, dried garlic and ginger, tomato products, pickles and chutneys, processed mushrooms and truffles and curried vegetables. Out of the 3443 cold storage units in India, 2975 are in private sector, 303 are in co-operative sector and the rest are in public sector. India’s vast produce rot due to lack of cold storage resulting in increased cost of the same produce as they die before they could even enter the market.

Government of India promoting cold storage warehouse investments by providing subsidies up to 50 percent to 75 percent on Investment. The nationalized banks of India are also proving loans for cold storage projects. In the recent time cabinet also approved the amount of 6000 crore rupees for mega food processing projects. The country requires 3.5 crore tonne capacity cold storage facilities and if somebody is looking for starting a business this is a right time.

Nearly one third of our horticultural produce, especially fruits and vegetables are wasted, mainly on account of poor cold storage and other storage facilities. Wastage of fruits and vegetables due to poor post-harvest management and lack of cold chain facilities have been estimated to cost up to Rs 500 billion annually. The country also experiences wide fluctuations in prices of horticultural produce, particularly potatoes and onions. The cold storage chain will help boost exports of agricultural and allied produce, marine produce etc.

The producers, therefore, have no choice but to sell their produce as soon as they harvest it, in spite of foreseeing price rise in the near future, owing to its seasonality. This can be gauged from the fact that only 11 per cent of what is produced in India can be stored (Emerson, 2015). These facts affirm how integral cold storages are in the entire cold chain system of fruits and vegetables.

There are several challenges across the entire supply chain ecosystem of Cold Chain. This presents a scope for R&D, Energy efficiency and alternate technology for energy and a scope for developing a business model.

Product Requirements:

  • Current approximate cost of a cold storage container of 5MT capacity
  • Days of Use : 300 days
  • Storage Capacity : 2 days
  • Capacity Utilization : 70 percent
  • kWh cost : INR 10/ kWh
  • Rental/kg : INR 0.38 (.25 + .08 + .05 profit)/kg/ day
  • Price / crate (20 kgs) : INR 7.6/ crate (20 kgs)
  • Pay Back period : 4 years
  • Cost of transportation of 5MT container through an I.C.E vehicle - Rs. 35/ km

Challenge-2:

Develop a business model (including innovation in technology if required) that can reduce the final rental/ kg of goods by over 40 percent or/ and reduces the cost of transportation by atleast 25 percent, with a lower payback. (For eg: Can a sustainable model be developed, where the cold storage vans pick up the agri/ dairy / horticulture produce and deliver straight to the retail market?)

Product Requirements:

  • Storage Size of 2 to 10 metric tonnes
  • Temperature: 4 to 14 degrees Celsius which can be controlled as per requirement
  • Storage Capacity: 2 days
  • (Vehicle may have a battery energy storage system which would enable them to maintain the temperature set over two days)
  • Few constants while arriving at a cost
  • Capacity Utilization: 70%
  • Days of Use: 300 days
  • kWh cost: INR 10/ kWh