Conservation holds the key to reducing energy intensity

All types of energy use results in environmental costs. Our transportation, food production, manufacturing, governments, recreation and household management all consume energy.

All types of energy use results in environmental costs. Our transportation, food production, manufacturing, governments, recreation and household management all consume energy.

At the same time, our major energy supplies (oil, coal and gas) are finite. They are not renewable, yet we burn through these fuels as if there were no tomorrow. The energy supplies which are renewable (solar, wind, thermal) are not being used as widely or thoughtfully as they should be. Given these facts, we need to reduce our energy consumption and environmental damage to the extent we can, and come into balance with natural energy recovery and production processes. We need to develop truly sustainable energy consumption practices, or our children and grandchildren will suffer.

With 8-9% rate of economic growth in recent years, India?s energy needs are growing at a faster pace. Since the major share of commercial energy needs to be met through imports as demand is outstripping the indigenous supply, energy security is becoming a major area of concern for India. Total primary energy demand in India is projected to increase from 537 Mtoe in 2005, to 770 Mtoe in 2015 and to 1300 Mtoe in 2030. This way, by 2030, India will be the third-largest energy consumer in world after China and the US. Coal remains the dominant fuel in India?s energy mix. Its share will increase from 39% in 2005 to 48% in 2030.

Demand for oil, mostly for transport, will increase by two-and-a-half times. Natural gas is the fastest growing of the fossil fuels, more than tripling by 2030. India will need to invest $1.25 trillion in energy infrastructure in the period 2006-30. More than three-quarters of this investment will be in power infrastructure. The reference scenario implies a need for India to invest $233 billion in oil and gas sectors.

Despite discovery of new sources of unconventional energy and due to existing inadequacies in supply of other forms of commercial energy relative to demand, petroleum remains the primary energy source in India and a preferred swing fuel. Its consumption has been increasing at a very steep rate from 3.5 MMT in 1950-51, to 84.3 MMT in 1997-98 and projected to reach 130 MMT in 2001-02 and 175 MMT in 2006-07.

Out of the known Indian reserves of 660 MMT of crude oil and 648 billion cubic metres of natural gas, only a part may be technically and economically feasible to exploit. This fact, coupled with the current and expected consumption rates, implies that these reserves may not last even 10 years.

As per the existing scenario, the industrial sector consumes 50% of the total commercial energy. The energy- intensive industries include iron & steel, fertiliser, textiles, cement, pulp & paper, aluminium, glass, sugar, ferrous foundries and refineries. In the steel sector alone, comparison of energy intensity per tonne of crude steel between developed countries (5-6 Gcal) and India (8-15 Gcal) is a glaring example of the potential of reducing energy intensity.

In the four major oil consuming sectors?transport, industry, domestic and agriculture?energy savings potential is estimated at 20-30%. The only way to get out of the predicament of high energy intensity is to embark on the path of energy saving and sustainable development.

Total energy consumption in Indian refineries during the year 2007-08 was about 316 trillion Btu or about 2.1 trillion Btu per million tonne of crude oil throughput. During the five-year period, between 2002-03 and 2006-07, while the refinery throughput rose by 28%, the corresponding increase in energy demand shot up by nearly 52%. This increase in energy consumption was due in part to the refinery capacity expansion but mainly it was due to the addition of energy-intensive secondary processing units to improve fuel quality to meet Euro III and Euro IV norms for transport fuels and also to reduce the bottom of the barrel by producing value-added products.

Competitive benchmarking data indicate that most petroleum refineries can economically improve energy efficiency by 10-20%.

Major areas for energy-efficiency improvement are utilities (30%), fired heaters (10%), process optimisation (15%), heat exchangers (15%), motor and motor applications (10%) and other areas (10%). The biggest challenge in the complete supply chain of petroleum products is to reach out to almost 37,000 retail outlets across the country.

Other energy conservation opportunities in refinery and gas are:

* use energy efficient lamps and replace incandescent bulbs with Compact Fluorescent Lamp (CFL).

* use task lighting, as keeping the light source as close as possible to the work place; as the light intensity decreases exponentially as the distance from the light source to the task increases.

* provide reflectors on the tube lights to enhance lumens/m2 (LUX), always keep reflector clean.

* make effective use of daylight wherever possible.

* clean luminaries to increase illumination, normally 10-20 % light output reduces over a period of six months if not cleaned.

* improve colour and reflectivity of walls, ceilings to reduce lighting energy needs.

* whenever replacing a burnt out lamp, attempt should be made to replace it with a more efficient lamp and the ordinary T/L fitting with an electronic ballast fitting. Electronic ballast consumes only 2 watts in comparison to the electromagnetic ballast which consumes around 13 watts of electrical energy.

* use time clocks or daylight sensor control for outdoor lighting.

* train personnel to switch off the light whenever not required, posters as reminders can be placed on the doors for this purpose.

* wherever LUX level is specified, it must be counter checked by LUX meter.

* during breaks, the lights of a specific workplace should be switched off, for which individual switches hanging at the worktable shall be helpful.

* interlocking of chain conveyor with cylinder washing pump.

* avoiding idle running of pump conveyor system.

?The writer is dean of executive postgraduate programme and professor of economics at Management Development Institute, Gurgaon

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First published on: 12-10-2009 at 23:39 IST