In 2018, India had achieved 100 percent electrification all over India, with the village of Leisang in Manipur being the last. With 5,97,464 villages being connected to the grid, as per the 2011 census, this was the end of one journey and the beginning of another. This was in 2018, but in the last couple of years, approximately 26 million households were provided access to electricity for the first time. With that accomplishment, India has succeeded in shifting from simply providing household lighting connections to providing a stable connection. Currently, India is focussing on empowering its people, specifically those who belong to under-served areas by providing them with electricity connection. Gradually, this development will lead to the demand, and use of more electrical appliances in these households.
According to studies, most Indian households, specifically from the rural areas, do not have basic electrical appliances. Due to years of lacking electricity connection, it is typical of consumption in rural areas to be significantly lower than that of urban areas. An uncertain power supply is another reason why electricity isn’t usually consumed as much in rural areas. But with the availability of electricity in most households now, there are about to be a few new changes. Improved supply in energy will help solve one of those problems, and rising incomes will encourage people to buy electrical appliances for their houses. All of these factors will contribute to higher electricity consumption. Encouraging rural consumers to educate themselves with renewable energy management courses can also help drive them towards using efficient appliances. Doing so will further help them understand how to efficiently use renewable sources of energy to reduce cost, as well as
An increase in consumption will affect both rural households as well as the distribution companies. Most houses will be using inefficient appliances, which will only increase their costs as well as the load for distribution companies. If instead efficient appliances were used, it would help reduce costs and encourage the use of more appliances to make lives easier. This would also lower the burden for DISCOMs during regular usage as well as during higher loads. For example, as much as 29 kWh will need to be generated to satisfy the conditions of houses that still use inefficient electrical appliances.
Replacements like LED lights and efficient ceiling fans can more than halve the energy requirements by 58 per cent. As an added effect, this will also help avoid about 14 million tons of carbon emissions every year. Efficient use of energy can also add benefits to consumers’ health. To those willing to know how energy can be efficiently used, some of the energy project management course offer courses that help analyse and understand energy use for efficient results. These courses help prepare their minds to think outside the box when it comes to finding efficient ways to manage energy.
As far as the generation of power is concerned, India will still be able to manage the requirements for the inefficient use of energy. Even then opting for efficient appliances will be beneficial to both consumers and DISCOMs. For those in leading positions of distribution companies, institutes like NTPC School of Business offer PG Diploma course in energy management, so they can possess the knowledge to analyse and efficiently manage energy on their end. Consumers will be able to save up to Rs. 6,282 crore for electricity bills. Whereas the distribution companies will have a reduced load of up to Rs. 1,918 crore. Households in rural areas will also save an estimated Rs. 3,900 per year, which could be quite significant for them. Inefficient appliances could increase the peak load requirements by around 15 GW, which for the environmentally conscious would mean the construction of around thirty 500 MW coal-generated power plants. Just by replacing these appliances with efficient alternatives, the scenario could be averted.
While efficient use of energy will help out in reducing the load on the grid, renewable sources of energy like solar power will easily complement the electric grid. This may become a necessity since the grid can be weak in some areas. Initiatives that decentralise the generation of power, can be very useful while coupled with solar power generated households, and efficient appliances in rural areas. This way the cost of electricity will be significantly reduced.
Even with future savings in mind, people from rural India feel discouraged by the high-cost upfront and unavailability of required items. Government programmes like the Unnat Jyoti by Affordable LEDs for All or UJALA, on the other hand, has led to widespread adoption of LED bulbs. This in turn has also provided manufacturers with significant benefits. Since its inception in 2015, approximately 36.6 crore bulbs have been distributed, saving around Rs. 19,036 crore in costs. Last year, a programme for ceiling fans was launched under the India Cooling Action Plan. This has presented further scope for efficiently improving cooling for rural households.
There are options available for improving efficiency, but it is the awareness of rural consumers that is lacking. This can lead to a lack of desire for efficient products. It has been observed that people in rural regions usually purchase poor-quality household appliances for lower costs, instead of higher-quality efficient alternatives. This holds up the need for the government to directly help out rural households. To make quality-approved efficient appliances available to rural consumers, the bigger picture should be looked at. Making renewable energy available, as well as managing energy efficiently should be a part of that approach.
Spreading the light of electrification was the first step towards making a brighter India but, more steps are required to provide a sustainable future. Programmes like IFC’s Lighting Asia/India are being used to raise consumer awareness among states like UP, Rajasthan, Assam, and Odisha. Also, the Indian private sector and financial institutions are working together to develop the market for these off-grid solar lighting solutions and appliances.
Keeping the market ready for a post-COVID India will also cut through any life-threatening barriers and benefit the consumer with faster deployments. Also, any programme promoting rural consumer awareness can help inform the availability and the advantages of using such products over others. Rural households are responsible for a huge market demand and a strong manufacturing base. India can not miss such an opportunity. Whether for economic reasons or health benefits, efficiently using energy via efficient electrical appliances will be a boon for all rural consumers in India.