Deepak Goel

IF the wheel owes its existence to man's necessity for faster logistics tools, initiatives in the improved energy efficiency performance in India owe their existence to growing energy security concerns.

With India's peak power requirement said to shoot up by 2012 and production falling significantly short of that, there is growing impetus on conserving as much of the generated power as possible.

This, in turn, has led to significant R&D initiatives in the residential and commercial applications segment.

Appliance companies are also working overtime to produce more efficient models and products to cater to growing competition.

Power solution innovations:

So, we have several initiatives. SAR Silicon Systems Pvt Ltd sells geysers that run on LPG through its Luminous range of appliances. The cost of running these geysers is 70 per cent less than conventional ones and the temperature of water can be adjusted to a desired level.

A power efficient alternative to the ordinary incandescent lamps is the compact fluorescent lamps. These lamps consume 80 per cent less electricity than incandescent bulbs and last 6-10 times longer. Though these lamps have found only four per cent penetration in the country, it can make for a sound alternative given their operability in a wide range of voltage variation. The T5s or the energy saving tube-lights launched by companies such as Havells and Polar also offer up to 80 per cent savings of power.

These tube-lights not only provide flicker-free start but also produce lower heat resulting in reduced air-conditioning cost.

Solar energy:

Competing with these lighting solutions are innovations on the solar power front. Mysore-based Sri Innovations offers solar lanterns for home users as well as users in the rural countryside. While the solar lantern for households comes with a smaller battery and offers six hours of back-up on full charge, the one for rural usage comes with a bigger battery and offers eight hours of back-up on full charge. Besides these, the company offers complete solar home lighting systems.

Similarly, sunbeam range of solar water heaters offers substantial power savings compared with conventional electric geysers. The water heaters offered by Sunbeam can save 85 per cent of the power bill compared to ordinary electric geysers. These solar water heaters can heat 100 litres of water up to 60 degrees Celsius on a sunny day and require little or no maintenance.

Austrian company Moeller, through Indian company HPL, is marketing in India a power system that detects power leakage in a building and the result is beamed on a computer attached to the system.

Mumbai-based Ravin Cables offer power cables that allow power saving of up to 10 per cent.

Intel's new Centrino Duo mobile technology offers high-definition television viewing with reduction in component power of up to 28 per cent. Besides, it also offers increased system responsiveness and improved battery life. When enabled with Intel High Definition Audio, it also features up to 7.1-surround sound with support for Dolby Digital.

Even IBM's PowerPC 970MP processor employs features to let the chip consume up to 50 per cent less power than with the previous variants.

The 2.5GHz chip used in Apple Computer's Power Mac G5 Quad machines would soon be incorporated into IBM's blade servers.

Chipmaker VIA Technologies Inc too has taken initiatives to manufacture power efficient chips. It has launched its Eden low-voltage fan-less processors designed for low-power consuming personal computers and set-top boxes.

The two new processors including new VIA Eden ultra low voltage (ULV) processor having speed of 1-GHz runs at just 3.5 watts, and the other 1.5-GHz version consumes 7.5 watts. When not needed, both chips idle down to speeds as low as 400 MHz, consuming as little as 500 milliwatts of power in the ULV chip's case and just four watts for the 1.5-GHz Eden.

E-paper:

Internationally, Fuji Xerox has announced a prototype electronic paper called "E-Paper Visual Index Card." The ultra-thin e-paper cuts down on electrical consumption as it does not need electricity to maintain its display configuration. The e-paper is made of photoconductivity seats that contain an LCD layer, and is expected to be commercially launched sometime this year.

Conzerv, a Mumbai-based energy management services company, offers products and solutions to bring down energy bills including those of power for industrial consumers. It offers power quality audits and training on energy efficiency for its clients.

Sumitron Exports Pvt Ltd has introduced terminals and fuses for electricals in automotive industries. These are especially targeted at the growing automotive segment.

Efforts to reduce dependency on power are also finding institutional support. TERI (The Energy and Resources Institute) offers consultancy for energy efficiency for both existing and to-be-constructed buildings in the residential and commercial sectors. It has even come out with its own ratings for power efficiency and environment friendliness of buildings.

Governmental initiatives:

With a rating system for consumer electronics and electrical appliances in the country expected soon, power efficiency of appliances should go up significantly.

The rating will grade models on their energy efficiency, starting from one star for the least energy-efficient, and going up to five stars, for the most energy-efficient model. Initiated by the Ministry of Power, the rating system is expected to be a voluntary move by manufacturers, but it would be made mandatory by the middle of next year.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated January 20, 2006)
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