Thursday, September 16, 2010

Strategic roadmap for electronics enabling energy efficient usage: Venkat Rajaraman, Su-Kam

I am very grateful to Venkat Rajaraman, CEO, Su-kam Power Systems Ltd, for sharing his thoughts, as well as those of Dr. Ajay Mathur, director general, Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE), presented at the India Semiconductor Association's (ISA) conference titled 'Electronics enabling Energy Efficiency E3', in New Delhi.

In his presentation, Rajaraman said that if Graham Bell were alive today, he won’t recognize his invention. Mobile devices have changed, the switching technology is vastly different and so is the communication medium.

However, if Thomas Alva Edison were alive today, he would be very happy. He would see his invention in pretty much the same form. Of course, there are more generating stations, more transmission and distribution lines, but the technology is fundamentally the same.

This scenario is quite changing. Yesterday’s era was all about industrialization - more automation, less labor, etc. Also, the more energy you consume, the lesser it costs to produce. Energy was considered inexhaustible then. Now, there is a paradigm shift. It is all about energy conservation! We know that the energy cost is rising and the resources are finite.

The energy industry will change more over the next 15 years than it has in the last 100! The decisions made now to the next few years will determine whether the transition is considered a success!

So, these changes are not about simple energy efficient appliances, smart meters, renewables, etc. It requires a complete socio-economic and mindset change, and that’s the hard part of the problem.

Su-Kam has been doing simple interventions regarding energy efficiency – such as, replacing DG sets with inverters, LED lighting, etc.

Rajaraman added that there seem to be far too many stakeholders in energy efficiency implementations -- financial Institutions, technologies solution providers, beneficiary industries, energy audit companies, measurement and verification systems, government/subsidy bodies, etc.

A plant owner is not attracted enough to make the investment in energy efficiency. There are questions such as who will own the results, who will deliver it, how will it be delivered? Herein lies the problem and the opportunity!

There have been several interventions from the BEE. They have been attacking this problem from policy perspective in a clinical precision manner. BEE has been doing a great job in coming out with policies that comprehensively covers such issues.

Rajaraman concluded that simple technological and policy interventions alone are not going to be enough. It needs a social and mindset change. He concluded: “Give a man one CFL/LED, you secure one CFL/LED worth of energy savings! Teach a man to love his CFL/LED, you inspire a life time of energy efficient behavior!”

I will later add a separate post on Dr. Ajay Mathur's thoughts.

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