Energy Efficiency – Missing Link in Power Sector Regeneration Puzzle

Domestic consumers have overtime become the biggest users of energy supplied through the national grid. Their share in energy consumption has gone up from 10% in 1970 to 43% in 2010. The share of industrial users has gone down in the same period from 46% to 24%.

With domestic demand growing at its current rate, there will be pressure on the federal government to bridge the demand-supply gap only by expansion of power generation capacity.

A recent study has suggested that energy consumption can be slashed by 17% through energy conservation measures and promotion of energy efficient appliances.

Other studies have estimated that in Pakistan lighting, cooling and heating account for about two-thirds of total household energy consumption.

A few years ago, the federal government had initiated a campaign to provide domestic consumers with energy saving light bulbs made with compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs). These energy savers use four times less energy than tube lights and incandescent bulbs. While domestic users have since switched to these energy saving lights, they continue to use inefficient electric fans during summer months. On average, an energy inefficient fan, consumes an additional 40 Watts per hour. Some estimates suggest that a household using three fans in summer months can save upto Rs 400 in their energy bill by replacing their inefficient fans with more efficient alternatives. If 50% of the households switch to efficient fans, the fall in electricity demand is likely to reduce load shedding by at least an hour.

Similarly, savings can be achieved by using energy efficient alternatives for other household appliances like air conditioners, electric motors and refrigerators.

In most industrialised countries, household appliances carry energy labels and are designed to meet minimum efficiency standards. The use of labels is done to encourage consumers to buy energy efficient appliances. In Pakistan, it is the mandate of the National Energy Conservation Center (ENERCON), now renamed the National Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (NEECA), to enforce Minimum Energy Performance Standards. The authority is overseeing a program under which similar labels will be prepared for appliances produced and sold in the country. For the purpose, it is considering setting up testing labs for fans, air conditioners and electric motors at various academic institutions in collaboration with Punjab Energy Efficiency Conservation Authority (PEECA).

Such initiatives will need to be complemented by advocacy programs to educate the average consumer about their long term benefits.

In industry, financial and energy savings can be attained through improved operation of tools and machinery and through efficient production processes. These measures will mostly require behavior changes, but will yield substantial savings at a very low cost. The savings can be multiplied by replacing old and inefficient machinery.

The University of Engineering and Technology, Lahore, has launched a course that introduces industry professionals to such measures. Mohammad Ali, a program manager for the initiative, says that some of the participants were able to save up a substantial amount of money by implementing some of the measures taught in the course.

Buildings are significant consumers of energy. They can be made energy efficient and their performance can be improved by strict enforcement of building energy codes. In its building energy code launched in 2014, the Pakistan Energy Council had prescribed design and construction standards that are to apply to energy systems, equipment, and the building envelope. With the enactment of the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Act, NEECA and the provincial energy departments have been authorized to enforce these building codes.

Energy Department of Punjab has already started setting up an Energy Resource Center in Lahore. The building is in its design phase and will take a couple of years for completion. Its design includes usage of fa├žade for shading and solar power generation, and allows maximum utilization of surrounding natural resources.

The energy efficiency and conservation efforts need to be replicated on a much larger scale and in all provinces. Until now, these efforts seem to be concentrated only in Punjab and in Karachi.

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