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Collaboration is the key to sustainable transition

March 27, 2024 11:20 am

Collaboration is the key to sustainable transition
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This involves upgrading infrastructure, adopting renewable energy sources, and implementing energy-efficient practices.

The energy transition is an ongoing journey, not just a fixed endpoint, with milestones like the 2030 and 2070 targets. As technology evolves, stakeholder collaboration becomes paramount for effective implementation and sustainability. Collaboration, innovation, and strategic foresight will be crucial in navigating these complexities and achieving a technically robust and sustainable energy landscape. The industry experts opine about the latest trends in the power industry with the EPR Magazine. Let us know their thoughts about the energy transition.

Modernisation and enhancing energy efficiency

Modernisation and enhancing energy efficiency are essential strategies in addressing contemporary energy challenges. By integrating advanced technologies and smart solutions, industries and households can reduce energy consumption while optimising performance. This involves upgrading infrastructure, adopting renewable energy sources, and implementing energy-efficient practices. Embracing innovation in energy management fosters resilience against future energy crises and promotes economic growth through cost savings and job creation. Ultimately, prioritising modernisation and energy efficiency is paramount for a sustainable and prosperous future.

Pankaj Gupta, Energy Specialist at Ensavior Technologies, comments, “In the energy efficiency space in India, there is a concerted effort across various fronts. Policy-wise, the Government of India has mandated the CBC (Energy Conservation Building Code) for all government and large buildings. This move ensures compliance and drives energy efficiency standards. Additionally, private sector initiatives abound, with major corporations setting sustainability goals and participating in green rating systems like those offered by the US Green Building and Green Building Council India. These systems accredit buildings with ratings like platinum, silver, or gold, incentivising energy-efficient practices.”

“Overall, the transition from voluntary to mandatory standards reflects a positive shift toward comprehensive energy efficiency practices in India, with implications for sustainability and cost-effectiveness,” Pankaj adds.

Subramanian Chidambaran, Chief Strategy Officer at Cummins India, opines, “As the automotive industry navigates the energy transition from diesel to alternative fuels like hydrogen, innovative solutions are imperative. One such concept that is gaining traction is the hydrogen ICE (Internal Combustion Engine), designed to run on hydrogen with minimal modifications from its diesel counterpart. This approach offers bridge technology, allowing existing commercial vehicles to transition gradually without extensive redesigns.” He further says that hydrogen ICE preserves familiarity while leveraging a cleaner fuel source, unlike hydrogen fuel cells, which demand a complete vehicle architecture overhaul. This adaptability is crucial for medium and heavy commercial vehicles, where rapid adoption of alternative fuels is essential for sustainability goals. By facilitating a smoother transition path, hydrogen ICEs serve as a pragmatic interim solution, bridging the gap until infrastructure and technology advancements make hydrogen fuel cells more feasible. “This strategy showcases an indigenous and ingenious approach within the industry, strategically balancing technological evolution with practical implementation amidst the energy transition,” Subramanian adds.

Saloni Sachdeva, Energy Specialist, India Clean Energy Transition at IEEFA, shares her thoughts, saying, “I believe a comprehensive narrative should encompass both the supply and demand sides. On the supply side, there is a need for improvements in various areas. Firstly, distribution companies (discoms) must focus on better casting and scheduling to ensure efficient utilisation of resources. Additionally, conducting thorough resource advocacy studies is crucial. I commend the Central Electricity Authority’s mandate for states to develop resource advocacy plans, as it helps understand peak power management requirements and address generation-supply gaps. However, more effort is needed in this regard, as only a few states have drafted such plans.”

She further says that interventions are equally vital on the demand side. Many states, like Rajasthan, have already initiated demand-side management measures, such as Emergency Response events. Implementing time-of-day and time-of-use pricing strategies can incentivise consumers to shift their energy usage to off-peak hours, benefiting both consumers and discoms economically. Educating consumers about these benefits is essential. Furthermore, regulations like time-of-day tariffs for Commercial, Industrial, and Non-Domestic consumers are under discussion and should be progressed.

Sharing his perspective, Akilur Rahman, CTO at Hitachi Energy India, comments, “The strategy involves assessing the techno-economic feasibility of the energy transition, including both generation and grid stability. This entails evaluating the efficiency of power evacuation, particularly in managing intermittency and energy loss. Collaboration between government and policy-making bodies is crucial for conducting techno-economic analyses and implementing appropriate technologies, such as HVDC links, which require evaluation in diverse environments like undersea and high altitudes.” He further says that while such technologies may be expensive, assessing their long-term return on investment (ROI), encompassing financial and environmental factors, is essential. “This collaborative approach to energy exchange forms a key strategic focus in navigating the energy transition,” Akilur adds.

Also, Rajesh Arora, Senior Manager at Delhi Transco, opines that embracing new technologies is essential in the transmission and distribution sector, albeit challenging. While advancements offer benefits, such as improved efficiency, cybersecurity concerns and the need for upskilling pose significant hurdles. He says, “Each technology adoption requires infrastructure investment, policy alignment, and governmental support. Training personnel and altering mindsets are imperative for successful integration. Many utilities have initiated modernisation efforts, but substantial work remains. Achieving targets depends on governmental support and robust infrastructure development. Collaboration between stakeholders is crucial for navigating these challenges and realising the sector’s potential.”

Role of BEE in improving energy efficiency

The Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) is pivotal in enhancing energy efficiency by formulating policies, promoting energy conservation practices, and implementing energy efficiency standards across various sectors. Through energy labelling, star rating programs, and capacity-building efforts, BEE drives awareness and adoption of energy-efficient technologies and practices.

Pankaj Gupta comments that the Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE), a part of the Ministry of Power in India, focuses on reducing energy consumption in buildings through mandates such as energy efficiency standards, conservation measures, and building codes. BEE also oversees rating systems for appliances like air conditioners, ensuring consumers can make informed choices based on energy efficiency. Continuously upgrading these ratings incentivises manufacturers to improve energy efficiency. He says, “BEE accredits buildings and trains energy managers and auditors, enhancing the implementation of energy-saving practices. By certifying energy-efficient buildings and providing a skilled workforce, BEE contributes significantly to reducing overall energy consumption and promoting sustainable development in India.”

Saloni Sachdeva points out that the Bureau of Energy Efficiency recently introduced the Carbon Credit Trading Scheme (CCTS) as an extension to the Perform Achieve and Trade (PAT) scheme. “This initiative aims to bring industries together to measure carbon emissions and determine the associated costs, fostering the development of India’s domestic carbon market. This comes after the underwhelming performance of previous mechanisms like the Clean Development Mechanism,” she says.

Challenges to achieve sustainable energy transition

The sustainable energy transition faces several challenges, including technological limitations in scaling renewable energy sources to meet global demand efficiently. Economic barriers such as initial high costs and subsidies favouring fossil fuels hinder widespread adoption. Addressing these challenges necessitates collaborative efforts among governments, industries, and communities to overcome technical, economic, and societal barriers, fostering a resilient energy transition.

Akilur Rahman shares his thoughts: “The transition towards sustainable energy requires a comprehensive approach, akin to digging a tunnel from both ends to meet in the middle. Generation and consumption must align to drive progress. Renewable energy sources like solar and wind are burgeoning on the generation front. Concurrently, consumption patterns are shifting towards electrification, notably in mobility, railways, and industrial sectors, with a growing emphasis on green hydrogen adoption in processes such as steelmaking and oil refining.”

Pankaj Gupta comments that the transition to cleaner technologies like electricity from fossil fuels is crucial for environmental sustainability. Still, it must be accompanied by a concerted effort to reduce consumption across all sectors. “By curbing excessive consumption, we can minimise strain on natural resources, reduce waste generation, and mitigate environmental degradation. This holistic approach aligns with conservation principles and responsible stewardship of our planet’s resources,” he says. 

Rajesh Arora also opines that procurement, commissioning, testing, and maintenance of equipment are pivotal in the power sector’s transmission and distribution. For instance, when procuring materials like gas-insulated substations using SF6, there is a critical need to address environmental concerns. He says, “Although alternatives exist, some pose challenges such as limited availability or lack of green energy usage in their production. Achieving sustainable development demands a paradigm shift towards eco-friendly practices. This entails adopting green technologies and encouraging suppliers to embrace sustainable methods.”

Although experts shared their views on the ongoing energy transition scenario, one thing is most important: the collaborative efforts between industry players and government agencies. By revising specifications, embracing innovative solutions, and prioritising sustainable practices, India’s energy transition can embark on a journey towards environmental stewardship and long-term sustainability. We have to change our specifications. We have to adopt new technologies if possible. 

Quotes:

Pankaj Gupta, Energy Specialist at Ensavior Technologies

“In the energy efficiency space in India, there is a concerted effort across various fronts. Policy-wise, the Government of India has mandated the CBC (Energy Conservation Building Code) for all government and large buildings. This move ensures compliance and drives energy efficiency standards.”

Subramanian Chidambaran, Chief Strategy Officer at Cummins India

“One concept gaining traction is the hydrogen ICE (Internal Combustion Engine), designed to run on hydrogen with minimal modifications from its diesel counterpart. This approach offers bridge technology, allowing existing commercial vehicles to transition gradually without extensive redesigns.”

Saloni Sachdeva, Energy Specialist, India Clean Energy Transition at IEEFA

“I believe a comprehensive narrative should encompass both the supply and demand sides. On the supply side, there is a need for improvements in various areas. The distribution companies (discoms) must focus on better casting and scheduling to ensure efficient utilisation of resources.”

Akilur Rahman, CTO at Hitachi Energy India

“Generation and consumption must align to drive progress. Renewable energy sources like solar and wind are burgeoning on the generation front. Concurrently, consumption patterns are shifting towards electrification, notably in mobility, railways, and industrial sectors, with a growing emphasis on green hydrogen adoption in processes such as steelmaking and oil refining.”

Rajesh Arora, Senior Manager at Delhi Transco

“Although alternatives exist, some pose challenges such as limited availability or lack of green energy usage in their production. Achieving sustainable development demands a paradigm shift towards eco-friendly practices. This entails adopting green technologies and encouraging suppliers to embrace sustainable methods.”

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