• Sthitapragyan Mohanty

Karnataka: An Energy Efficiency Paradigm

Updated: Oct 26

The Indian state has been focused on harnessing maximum energy efficiency by means of policy implementation and executing best practices of energy conservation to secure its ambitious goals.


The prestigious state of Karnataka, also known as the Silicon Valley of India, has been a leader in India’s service-sector driven growth for over a decade now. Karnataka is home to the flourishing Information Technology (IT) hub in the country, considered one of the largest technology clusters in the world. Favourable policies and excellent infrastructure have encouraged hundreds of IT, software and internet companies to set up offices in the state.


Karnataka’s service sector is the torchbearer of its rapidly growing economy that contributes almost 8 per cent to India’s total GDP. Since 2004, more than half of the state’s output has been accounted for by services, and this share is still increasing. At the same time, the government is focusing on boosting the state’s industrial sector, despite its heavy reliance on the service sector. Apart from its prominent IT industry, Karnataka is making significant strides in textiles, automotive, electronics, food processing, biotechnology and engineering.

Clean energy has been universally recognized as one of the fundamental resources for sustainable economic growth and development. Therefore, it’s not surprising that Karnataka is also among the leading states in renewable energy with an installed capacity of 15,181 MW (May 2021). Even though it may not be as big an IT hub as Silicon Valley, Karnataka is at par with California when it comes to the generation and use of renewable energy.


However, renewable capacity additions alone will not ensure an economical and efficient power system that reduces carbon emissions. Energy Conservation and Energy Efficiency are the fastest, cleanest and cheapest ways to achieve the substantial goals of energy access and energy security for all. One unit of energy saved is equivalent to two units of energy generated. With this virtue in mind, the Government of Karnataka, and the Karnataka Renewable Energy Development Limited (KREDL) have undertaken several measures to harness the energy-saving potential in the state.


In addition, the government has also launched the Karnataka Energy Conservation and Energy Efficiency Policy (2020-25) to address the depletion of conventional energy sources, the impact of climate change, consistently rising energy demand, and development challenges faced by the state.


The Karnataka Energy Conservation and Energy Efficiency Policy (2020-25) aims to save nearly 744 million kWh of energy consumption. This will nullify the need for fossil fuel-based capacity addition of around 454 thousand kW, and in turn, relax the heavy subsidy burden on the state government.


Large scale deployment of energy efficiency measures across different sectors will contribute to the goal of energy security as well as to the rapidly growing economy of Karnataka. The policy covers five major sectors – Municipal, Domestic, Agricultural, Commercial and Industrial, with detailed energy efficiency and conservation roadmap for roles and responsibilities of stakeholders, awareness and training programs, proactive financing and market innovation strategies.


Municipal Sector

Energy efficiency measures in the municipal sector include:

  1. Regulation of energy consumption standards for street lighting and replacement of traditional street lamps with new energy-efficient technology such as LED.

  2. Monitoring energy use and performing energy audits of public waterworks, installation of efficient 4/5-star rated pumps for drinking water supply, and optimization of the existing water distribution system.

  3. Implementation of green building codes such as Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), and Indian Green Building Council (IGBC). Municipal buildings with a connected load of 100kW or contract demand of 120kVA or more will be audited according to Karnataka Energy Conservation Building Code (KECBC 2018).

Domestic Sector

The policy underlines some effective measures for energy conservation and efficiency in the domestic sector. These include:

  1. Inspection of buildings to check compliance with energy standards of the Energy Conservation Act.

  2. Replacing non-efficient domestic appliances like ceiling fans, air conditioners, refrigerators, TVs, washing machines and light bulbs with 4/5 star labelled ones.

  3. Providing financial incentives such as soft loans, subsidies, electricity rebates for procurement of energy-efficient appliances.

  4. Implementing solar rooftop program, solar water heaters for residences and clean cooking drives through the Ujjwala scheme for BPL families.

Agriculture Sector

Agriculture remains one of the largest consumers of electricity in the state of Karnataka. Consequently, there is a huge scope for energy efficiency in this sector.

  1. Energy consumption in agriculture is mainly through low-efficiency irrigation pumps and other electrical farming equipment. So replacing these with highly efficient/ISI marked pump-sets will be effective in cutting down energy consumption.

  2. Solar and other renewable energy infrastructure will help to manage farms on a sustainable basis with a decentralized supply of energy. Drip irrigation systems for specific crops can also conserve up to 80% water and reduce pumping energy requirements.

  3. Energy audit and introduction of a smart energy meter to enable control over energy use and farm operations. Consumers will gain remote access to energy data through the energy dashboard from any device connected to the cloud.

Commercial Sector

The commercial sector includes establishments like businesses, offices, hotels, restaurants, shops, and hospitals, which call for a host of energy-saving and efficiency measures:

  1. Retrofitting and replacement of existing low-efficiency lighting, HVAC and other electric appliances with high quality, super-efficient units for energy-saving and lower emissions.

  2. Adoption of rooftop photo-voltaic in commercial buildings, and solar water heating systems in hospitals, hotels and offices.

  3. Assigning entities to check compliance with BEE (Bureau of Energy Efficiency) star rating for buildings, state ECBC, mandatory energy audits and reporting.

  4. Encouraging consumers to use energy more efficiently through financial incentives and awareness programs, and awarding outstanding performers in various building categories.

Industrial Sector

The largest consumer of energy, industries in Karnataka relies on imports of coal and natural gas due to the absence of reserves in the state. Thus, it is absolutely necessary to improve energy efficiency in Karnataka’s industrial sector.

  1. Direct the designated consumers to comply with energy audit requirements and furnish requisite data at a requisite time.

  2. Regulation of the energy consumption standards for industrial equipment and appliances including motors. Establishing an energy management system (EMS) to optimize plant performance.

  3. Initiatives and programs such as workshops, personnel training, and imparting industry best practices to help facilities achieve ISO 50001 certification that will result in 10-20% saving of energy consumption.

Karnataka Energizing a Green India

Karnataka is the pioneer state in India to come up with a draft policy for energy efficiency and energy conservation with an objective to lay the framework for identification, development, implementation, monitoring and verification of energy efficiency programs.


Karnataka’s progressive leadership offers a positive role model of electricity system transformation for the rest of India. As other states follow Karnataka’s lead, India is well-positioned to take its place as a global leader in de-carbonization.


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