Energy efficiency is the new mantra when it comes to saving operational costs. This is because energy optimally used leads to cost reduction in the long run on inputs required to generate power. Ask Saurabh Kumar, Managing Director of Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL), a venture floated by NTPC Limited along with Power Finance Corporation, Rural Electrification Corporation and Powergrid, on how this works on the ground.

“It is simple. It makes investments work for you,” says Kumar. Take EESL’s Unnat Jeevan by Affordable LED and Appliances for All (UJALA) scheme. It was initially launched in 2015 as the National LED programme before being renamed UJALA. So far, through this scheme, 25 crore LED bulbs have replaced the traditional ones with an investment of about ₹1,500 crore.

This has led to energy savings of over 3275 kWh of power and helped avoid 6,600 MW of peak power demand, which is roughly equivalent to the combined output of six thermal power plants with 1000 MW capacity. According to some estimates, this has helped save a whopping ₹40,000 crore, apart from the saving on coal. This massive saving potential can be explained if 77 crore incandescent bulbs are replaced with LED bulbs under UJALA. Then the total reduction in connected load is estimated to be 20,000 MW and energy savings of 10,000 crore kWh every year. This leads to a saving in annual consumer electricity bills of ₹40,000 crore , considering average tariff of ₹4 per kWh.

EESL has managed to replace conventional bulbs by introducing over 30 lakh LED lights during 2014-15. This went up to 15 crore in 2015-16 and to 40 crore in 2016-17. It is expected to distribute another 55 to 60 crore LED bulbs during the 2017-18 fiscal.

What has substantially enhanced overall savings is that the price of LED bulbs has fallen from ₹450-500 per bulb to about ₹100-150 last year and to ₹70 now. The increasing popularity of LED bulbs will finally settle its price at about ₹80-100 and LED tubes at ₹300-450.

It is estimated that the lighting sector accounts for about 20 per cent of the country’s total energy consumption. By replacing inefficient lighting devices, the savings could be about 30 per cent. UJALA has already resulted in energy savings of 55.7 million units, reduced carbon emissions of over 45,000 times. So far, over 25 lakh LED bulbs, 28.3 lakh LED tube lights and 10.3 lakh energy efficient fans have been distributed across the country.

Recently the Finance Ministry issued guidelines for all Central government offices to retrofit energy efficiency appliances. EESL plans to invest over ₹1,000 crore to cover 10,000 large government and private buildings by 2020.

The model of EESL as a nodal agency pushing energy efficiency is not just for LED lights, but energy efficient fans, super-efficient air conditioners and other heavy energy consuming appliances. An offer of green bonds to raise funds is also on the cards.