By Sairam Bollapragada & Rajesh Mohandas
The highest consumption rate in today’s world is of fossil fuel. The twentieth century saw a rapid 20x increase in the use of fossil. The consumption of these fossil fuels continues at a high rate which means once we have used up all of them, we need to rely on alternative sources of energy such as solar, wind and hydro power to meet our daily needs. This sounds quite scary, but yes, this is the truth. As per a research report compiled by IEA (International Energy Agency) average energy use in the last three decades grew at 10% per person per year globally.
Statistics show developing nations consume more energy compared to the developed ones while the world overall grew by 39%.
(Data from International Energy Agency)
Industrial users (agriculture, mining, manufacturing, and construction) consume about 37%, Personal and commercial transportation consumes 20%, Residential consumption at 11%, commercial consumption stands at 5%, The other 27% of the world’s energy is lost in energy transmission and generation…
The concept of getting more awareness in developing nation is though a bigger challenge but will catapult them to become a nation better planned when developed and refrain from being in an irreversible position where you cannot change things.
There has been a veritable explosion in the number of electronics, appliances, and other miscellaneous devices plugged into, or permanently connected to the outlets in our homes that are consuming electricity every moment. The NRDC (Natural Resource Defense Council) conducted a study and found that 23% of power consumption in the average household (roughly about a quarter of your electricity bill), is paid for no good reason but for the idle load electricity which is consumed by various appliances like Computers, Digital equipment’s, electrical outlets and others… in sleep mode. The rush towards the new age innovation and connected devices to an extent where a home refrigerator can now play music and pop up a twitter feed on its display is consuming energy more than what it is actually meant for, Alas… the engineering, some devices actually can be designed such that the energy consumption is minimum and that’s is what we believe Smart equipment are all about…!
India, a country with a population of 1.27 billion and GDP of nearly 6 Trillion has 60% of its power generated by Coal, the electricity demand growth stands at 10% to 12% per annum. Power deficits range between 4.3% to 5.4% and a percentage electrification of 67.2% across the country. India has an installed capacity of ~350000 MW out of which 12.75% is renewable energy generation capacity. India operated with two power exchanges IEX and PXIL. India has also grand plans on going smart in the power sector in all three areas Generation, Transmission and Distribution.
A study indicates that some power vendors are still working in the old inefficient ways and these power plants typically only turn about 30% of the energy input into usable electricity. We are losing up to 70% of the energy in the fuel at the start of the process and the end user like us in our homes and offices are leaving open the energy sucking vampires in standby mode and charges connected one end to the power plugs dangling unconnected to any device at the other, we should take conscious attempt to drain energy vampires by unplugging electronics and appliances we seldom use.
How can we leverage Technology?
Home automation technology is becoming as synonymous with sustainability as it is with convenience. Incorporating smart home technology into a new or existing structure makes it easier to reduce energy consumption. Easy monitoring of their power, heat and hot water usage helps households and workplaces get to grips with their energy consumption habits. Experience shows that it is possible to save around 20% of energy consumption simply by changing user behavior. With the advent of Internet of Things and convergence towards Smart City initiative user comfort along with energy efficiency focuses on correct operation of building automation devices and systems. The communicating and connected devices can help us integrate energy-saving smart lighting controls, power controllers that turn appliances off automatically and programmable climate control systems.
- The energy vampires can be eliminated by use of Smart Strip – a device that automatically detects when you have turned an item off and completely cuts power to a device so it stops drawing electricity and provides surge protection saving 23% of our power bills.
- 19% of global electricity generation is taken for lighting. Sensors which are capable to detect motion can be great help. LEDs today are using 85% less energy than incandescent bulbs. Research shows LED efficiency is expected to double from the current 125-135 lumens per watt to 230 lumens per watt in the next few years.
- Thermal conditions at homes or offices helped with programmable thermostats allow us to set the temperature automatically. Motion sensors in the rooms to start and stop the heating and cooling systems and decrease the amount energy consumption to an extent of 7%
- The emergence in solar power technology and India focusing on use of 20,000 MW of solar power by 2020 is a golden opportunity to leverage this technology at homes, we already are using solar water heaters and can extend this technology at homes for our lighting and other needs too.
- There is an emergence of Ultra Efficient heat pump systems, for example a fuel-fired, multi-function residential heat pump that can reduce primary energy consumption by 30% while a low-cost gas heat pump is designed to reduce heating costs by 30% to 45% compared to conventional gas furnaces and boilers. Oak Ridge National Laboratory and General Electric are developing a new type of clothes dryer that uses a heat pump cycle to generate hot air needed for drying.
- The real smart technology focusing on energy consumption is the invention of Smart refrigerator, a revolutionary new type of refrigerator that uses magnets to create cold, instead of vapor compression technology with water-based cooling fluid which is 70% more energy efficient.
- While we are very much using our common sense today to open the windows and use the sunlight instead of drawing heavy curtains to them and light up the home, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and Pella Windows are working on new highly insulated windows that use sensors and microprocessors to automatically adjust shading based on the amount of available sunlight and the time of day to ensure proper lighting and comfort, saving consumers energy and money.
- Another mechanism that is driven thru the emerging technology is a system could use the GPS function of a smartphone to automatically put a home in away mode when a person leaves a property. Some companies collect and analyse energy usage data, whether it’s two-way power meters or smart thermostats, to tailor heating and cooling settings to specific buildings, on the other hand Cloud-based services can lower energy bills further. Utilities, for example, can reduce power usage during peak times through smart thermostats.
Technology indeed provides us means and ways to become smart in leveraging the same and the key is sustenance at least cost and being smart at saving our reserves for the future generations adding to it a saving on our power bills to not less than 50%, we’ll also push towards a more sustainable, convenient living situation.
It’s all about making smart energy choices in a smart city opting to live in a smart home filled with smart equipment’s and be a smart human making smart choices