Interview: Govt Can Create Better Awareness for Promotion of Energy Efficiency

Interview: Govt Can Create Better Awareness for Promotion of Energy Efficiency

The government could go one step further and create better awareness by highlighting various technologies that aid in improving energy efficiency in industries and buildings. In addition, the success of Bureau of Energy Efficiency’s Perform-Achieve-Trade (PAT) scheme can also be scaled up to other sectors at faster rate than is happening today. These coordinated activities will go a long way in enhancing adoption of energy efficient techniques, believes Mohandas Mekanapurath, business head, Bosch Energy and Building Solutions, an arm of Bosch Limited that helps enterprises in monitoring energy consumption, source clean energy and improves energy efficiency in their facilities. In conversation with Manu Tayal, Associate Editor, Saur Energy International, Mekanapurath shared his views on various topics related to technology, company’s offerings, achievements etc. Here’re the excerpts from that exclusive interview published in the Saur Energy International Magazine’s August 2019 edition:

Q. Can you shed some light on Bosch’s Energy and Building Solutions business in India.

Mohandas Mekanapurath, business head, Bosch Energy

Mohandas Mekanapurath, Business Head, Bosch Energy

Rising energy costs and carbon footprint are driving several organizations across the nation to change the way they operate. To develop a future-proof energy infrastructure, it is critical to have a reliable partner on board who provides solutions addressing all possible aspects of energy management. Since 2011, Bosch Energy and Building Solutions (BEBS), a business division of Bosch Limited, plays the role of this partner by providing solutions that help enterprises monitor their energy consumption, source clean energy and improve energy efficiency in their facilities.

For access to clean energy, BEBS provides turnkey services for implementation of solar power plants, from design and engineering to installation and commissioning. In addition, BEBS also realizes significant energy savings for enterprises through our Energy Efficiency Solutions – where experts study processes and utilities and implement solutions that cut down specific energy consumption. Each of these solution offerings are customized depending upon the customers’ need and facility limitations.

Energy experts at Bosch Energy and Building Solutions customize these solutions for commercial and industrial requirements by combining them with innovative applications and bringing in our internal quality and safety principles. As of 2019, BEBS has enabled over 200 enterprises in generating 58 crore kWh of solar power, Rs 430 crore in cost savings and offsetting over 4,00,000 tons of CO2 emissions so far.

Q. Name a few major achievements of Bosch in the solar PV domain in recent past? What is the installed capacity till date?

Using its engineering competence, Bosch implements solar power plants that optimize space usage – like rooftop solar plants, water-lagoon based solar plants, carport solar plants etc. As of June 2019, Bosch has successfully commissioned over 200 MW of solar capacity across India. Throughout our journey in India, Bosch has set several benchmarks in the solar industry in technology, design aspects, and quality and safety parameters. For example, Bosch conceptualized the use of handrails, walkways and lifelines in rooftop solar power plants, when it wasn’t the norm in India. Bosch has established other best practices like using tensile structures and mounting solar panels on membrane roofs for complex applications as well.

The most popularly known solar project commissioned by Bosch has been the 12 and 2.4 MWp solar project implemented for Cochin International Airport, which made it the first airport in the world to be fully powered by solar energy. Subsequently, Bosch also implemented a 11 MWp solar plant for the airport, which included a 5 MW solar plant mounted on a 3 km stretch of canal. Similarly, BEBS also implemented a 2.5 MWp ground-based solar plant next to the active runway, a 440 kW carport solar plant in front of the corporate office and a 14.4 MWp ground-based solar plant on open access mode for Bangalore International Airport Limited.

The 14.4 MWp solar plant has been touted as a benchmark in the industry for its power generation output. The primary focus area for BEBS is rooftop solar plants for enterprise clients. For example, since 2018, Bosch has served as the energy partner for Honda Motorcycle and Scooter India by implementing over 25 MWp rooftop solar projects across 4 of their facilities in India. Similarly the Siemens manufacturing unit in Mumbai is also benefiting from a state-of-the-art 2.2 MWp rooftop + carport solar plant implemented by Bosch in 2018.

Bosch Group has committed to becoming carbon neutral across all its facilities worldwide by 2020. Bosch Energy and Building Solutions has been a key enabler in realizing this commitment, with over 22 MW of solar projects implemented across Bosch facilities in India. The Nashik plant of Bosch generates around 20 percent of the power required by the plant each year. Similarly, the Bidadi plant is able to cover around 30 percent of its energy needs with its own solar power plant.

Q. What are the latest technologies available in India to check the energy efficiency of buildings? By using them, up to what percentage of energy can be saved?

Over 50 percent of the power generated in India is consumed by commercial and industrial units. This energy is utilized for various applications like process heating, equipment operation, air-conditioning, lighting load etc. While the way industries and building operate have evolved to a large extent, there still exist inefficiencies in the way energy is utilized across facilities. These inefficiencies are a resultant of either usage of old equipment, imbalance in energy systems, improper maintenance, improper equipment sizing or a combination of one or more of these issues.

Bosch Energy and Building Solutions also specialises in identifying and reducing these inefficiencies with the help of its innovative energy efficiency solutions. The certified energy experts at Bosch have studied over 200 facilities across India to design these solutions. The most common areas where our experts have observed significant areas for energy reduction are steam generation and distribution, hot water generation and HVAC systems. We have been able to successfully reduce energy consumption in the range of 12-50 percent in these utilities with our current solutions.

Our solution portfolio is only expanding and we foresee further scope for energy reduction depending on the customer sector. BEBS typically begins by conducting a detailed energy assessment of the facility and identifying improvement areas across utilities and operations. These improvement areas are then analyzed for techno-commercial feasibility of our energy efficiency solutions. The feasible solutions are then specially customized based on the facility requirements and limitations.

Q. What are your key suggestions for the government in order to promote energy efficiency?

The government has already made great strides in encouraging energy efficiency across different sectors. The Bureau of Energy Efficiency’s PerformAchieve-Trade (PAT) scheme is one such great example. Many other government agencies and PSUs have come forward in developing technologies, launching financing schemes and coordinating drives centered on energy efficiency. The Energy Conservation Building Code released in 2017 is another initiative by the government that outlines energy consumption thresholds for various types of buildings.

These and many other initiatives by the government have established a strong foundation for energy efficiency to take center stage. The government could go one step further and create better awareness by highlighting various technologies that aid in improving energy efficiency in industries and buildings. In addition, the success of the PAT scheme can also be scaled up to other sectors at faster rate than is happening today. These coordinated activities will go a long way in enhancing adoption of energy efficient techniques.

Q. As any solar power plant has a life span of approx. 20-25 years, how do you ensure the quality and safety of the plant?

The success of all renewable energy projects lies in their quality and safety during execution and operation. To ensure this, Bosch uses its specially developed quality gate approach while executing such solar projects. Bosch’s quality gate approach poses filter stages during the project execution that allow work progress only after review of critical deliverables at each stage by an internal quality and safety expert. This ensures that the approved design, quality parameters and safety guidelines are adhered to at all stages of project execution. The same approach is used when working with sub-contractors for specific work packages. Bosch deploys its quality experts to engage with contractors right from the beginning and ensure that sufficient quality considerations have gone into the design stage.

Other initiatives taken at the design stage include use of mock-ups for structures that are mounted for complex projects like rooftops and carports. These mockups help in analyzing and improving the structural stability of the solar plants and ensure long-term durability.

Safety is an integral part of the Bosch DNA and this has been absorbed into each and every activity of the EPC process. Regular safety trainings and adherence to safety procedures are followed with the help of dedicated safety engineers at each site. More importantly, before the project kick-off, the safety officers in Bosch conduct a detailed Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment (HIRA) and Failure Modes and Effects Analysis (FMEA) for project safety during execution and post execution as well.

Q. In the current scenario where India is among the leading emitters of CO2, how important is the adoption of energy efficiency in a country like India? What level of awareness about energy efficiency do you see in the country?

For commercial and industrial organizations, the drive for energy efficiency is no longer an option. While there is wide-spread acceptance, the actual importance given to energy efficiency in organizations is not satisfactory. Annual budgets allocated for energy efficiency initiatives are not always encouraging and management teams don’t always pay attention to such topics. We see large organizations, especially ones that have a multinational footprint, that are far ahead on this curve and invest regularly in these initiatives. But commitment in other organizations is still lagging.

Apart from reduction of carbon footprint, energy efficiency must be used as a key growth lever that will realize significant profitability improvement for organisations. Hence, enterprises must commit to a focused and consistent approach towards energy efficiency – an approach that entails regular management involvement, dedicated teams who persistently evaluate state-of-the-art technologies and solutions and budget allocations that take into account the long-term benefits from these solutions. The unmet demand will define the future of the industry. The ecosystem for this demand to manifest is already in place, including reputed service providers, affordable technologies, conducive government policies and attractive financial models. With this impending demand and available ecosystem, the energy efficiency market will only grow stronger in the years to come.

While much damage has been inflicted on the environment so far, energy efficiency holds the potential to reverse this damage and create a much more sustainable environment in the future.

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Manu Tayal

Manu is an Associate Editor at Saur Energy International where she writes and edits clean & green energy news, featured articles and interview industry veterans with a special focus on solar, wind and financial segments.