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Energy management: Countries need to get smarter, says K Ramanathan

Jan 27, 2014

It would be prudent to adopt a flexible approach in moving forward since consumer behavior is often hard to predict, writes K Ramanathan, Distinguished Fellow, TERI.

K Ramanathan

Countries world over are today looking for smarter ways for managing their energy demand in a sustainable manner. These assume added importance for India, given its size, continuing power shortages, concerns of access and quality, rapid urbanization, and the changing life styles of people besides the increasing environmental and social concerns in supply augmentation.

The strong nexus between energy and water, both of which are getting increasingly stressed, is also adding to the urgency for adopting smarter ways of energy usage.

We have been seeing a number of efforts, though somewhat disjointed, in this regard focusing on promotion of energy efficient appliances, accelerated use of renewable energy resources, time-of-use pricing, deployment of smart grid technologies, etc. But there is still a long way to go. Very often pilot projects do not get scaled up on a sustainable basis.

This has to change and we should have clear road map and a conscious effort to utilize emerging technologies. For example, the developments in Information Technology have revolutionalised our lives in many spheres and these have huge potential in the power sector; but we are lagging behind in fully utilizing these. Consumer outreach is yet another area needing attention.

Any demand side management intervention should have a value proposition to the user if he has to accept it. The ultimate aim should be to transform today’s ‘consumers’ to ‘prosumers’. We should also remember that the strategies have a state focus since the socio-economic and demographic profiles vary widely across the country. Proactive regulatory support, viable business models and creation of indigenous base for smart technologies are also equally important in this context. It would be prudent to adopt a flexible approach in moving forward since consumer behavior on a sustained basis is often hard to predict.

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