After 15 years of overseeing energy standards, the Bureau of Energy Efficiency is poised to take on many more roles, writes V Rishi Kumar in an article on the Hindu Business Line website.
Now wired in more ways than one
The Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE), part of the Union Power Ministry, is no longer a body that will only rate electronic products such as air conditioners, geysers, fans on the amount of energy each consumes. On its way forward, it is ready to play a much wider and pro-active role with a strong focus on setting up an enforcement mechanism and ratcheting up energy standards of electronic goods across the spectrum.
Started 15 years ago as an initiative to bring energy efficiency in the high-energy consumption industrial sectors through the Performance Achieve Trade (PAT) scheme, it has been growing over the years and adding new jobs and skills to its portfolio. Some time ago, it spread its wings to cover energy efficiency in buildings through a Building Code, and now BEE is set to play an increasing role in implementing the country’s ambitious electric mobility drive, notching up energy efficiency in upcoming smart cities and in the huge transportation sector.
“BEE is scaling up to cover a number of new areas on a mission mode while also seeking to take up the mantle of enforcement,” Abhay Bakre, Director General, BEE, told BusinessLine. He recalled the impact created by being extensively involved in promotion of energy efficiency, regulating and mandating many schemes. Now it is going to take up the responsibility of creating enforcement mechanisms. Consultation for this has been initiated with a large number of stakeholders.
The Bureau has initiated a techno-commercial assessment study to develop technical reports for around 24 appliances. The objective would be to assist BEE in designing and implementing the efficiency programme for various appliances and equipment by providing all necessary details.
“Ratcheting up of standards is a continuous process and will keep going up with the upgradation of technology and standards. In future, there is a large scope for efficiency growth,” Bakre said.
Currently, BEE covers the star labelling programme for 21 appliances, of which nine are under the mandatory regime and 12 appliances under the voluntary regime. From January this year, the mandatory star labelling has begun for inverter ACs and in the line-up are LED bulbs, chillers and variable refrigerant volume systems.
Soon, electric mobility will also come under BEE’s purview. Bakre explained that though Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL) is working on the first major order of Electric Vehicles (EVs), BEE has been nominated by the Ministry of Power as the nodal agency for representing India under the Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM) initiative on EV 30@30. Here, the objective has been set to achieve a 30 per cent sales share for electric vehicles by 2030.
For this, BEE is working in coordination with the Advisory Board of CEM and International Energy Agency on policies and strategies for making EVs a reality. CEM has decided to roll out pilot projects to analyse technical and infrastructural challenges for large scale deployment of EVs in CEM member countries including India, for which Amravati, Nagpur and Delhi have been short-listed. BEE is also working on identification of possible EV charging options such as public and private charging stations, fleet charging stations and battery swapping stations. It will provide an analysis of technical (safety and performance) standards of charging stations and EV components. “Likewise we are looking at closely working with the transport sector, from cars to commercial vehicles including heavy duty trucks, light commercial vehicles and tractors as they need to become more energy efficient. The idea is to assess what is the current level of efficiency of vehicles. A proposal regarding star rating for passenger cars has been sent to the ministry,” Bakre explained.
It is well known that energy cost savings resulting from energy efficiency retrofit measures directly benefit building owners and occupants over the building’s life cycle. The Bureau has taken up institutionalising energy efficiency services by creating a pool of Energy Service Companies (ESCOs) who will provide a business model through which the energy-savings potential in existing buildings can be captured. Further, for creating a market pool of energy efficient buildings, it has developed a voluntary Star Rating Programme based on the energy usage over its area expressed in kWh/sqm/year termed as the Energy Performance Index (EPI).
Star labels for day use office buildings, BPOs, hospitals and shopping malls have been developed. About 200 commercial buildings have been star-rated under different categories of buildings as on date.
BEE’s scope in taking up energy efficient measures is certainly expanding by the day. Apart from ACs, fans and other appliances, it is considering working on a pilot project that entails replacement of pump sets under an agriculture demand side management scheme.
And not to forget the energy certificates that can now be traded. The market driven PAT scheme, under the National Mission for Enhanced Energy Efficiency, is meant to enhance cost effectiveness through certification of excess energy savings in energy intensive industries that can be traded.
Through energy certificates issued by the Ministry of Power, when a designated consumer achieves and surpasses the target, the consumer can trade them with industries, which could not achieve targets on energy savings.
“As we take to some new areas, we will continue to shift benchmarks and seek to drive energy efficiency to the next level,” Bakre said. Something to wait and watch for!