Updated: Apr 25, 2022
Maharashtra leads the pack of growing industrial states in India and is slated to become India’s first trillion-dollar state economy by 2025.
Riding on the back of several energy infrastructure projects, the state is the largest producer of electricity and had a total power-generation capacity of 44,165.62 MW, as of February 2021
With the megacity of Mumbai, Maharashtra is witnessing rapid urbanization and massive development in the commercial & industrial sectors, which also makes it the largest consumer of power in the country.
Although the government has achieved decent progress with unconventional energy initiatives, Maharashtra’s major share of electricity is being generated through sources like coal, oil and gas. Considering that energy demand is only going to rise in the future, it’s clear that increasing renewable energy capacity in Maharashtra is not the only answer. Even more so because the Covid-19 pandemic has added to the troubles of the state, aggravating its financial condition and hampering its ability to push fresh capital for solar and wind energy projects.
Studies suggest that energy conservation projects demand only a fifth of the investment that is required for setting up new power projects. If India aims to meet its sustainability targets under the Paris Agreement, it needs to reduce reliance on conventional fuels and boost its energy conservation policy at the state level.
The following are some of the major initiatives taken by the Government to promote energy conservation and energy efficiency in Maharashtra:
SAVE ENERGY PROGRAM
The Maharashtra Energy Development Agency (MEDA) has launched the Save Energy Program which recognizes Energy Conservation as the cheapest, simplest and cleanest way to deal with the worrisome demand-supply scenario.
One of the main objectives of the Save Energy Program is to provide financial assistance to organizations for carrying out a detailed energy audit at their facilities. Energy audit uncovers a huge potential for energy saving and improving energy performance in various sectors.
Spreading Awareness on Energy Efficiency
Appointed as the state-designated agency (SDA) by the Government of Maharashtra, the MEDA is responsible for coordination, regulation and enforcement of the provisions under the Energy Conservation Act, 2001. Besides facilitating renewable energy projects, MEDA has also taken over the role of promoting and developing energy efficiency in the state of Maharashtra.
MEDA empanels in-house consultants and qualified auditors to create an ecosystem that will help increase awareness on energy efficiency through an energy audit. The SDA holds that “energy audit is the first step towards identification of potential areas for energy conservation.” For its information dissemination and public awareness campaigns, it also conducts training programs, seminars, exhibitions and conferences.
STATE ENERGY CONSERVATION POLICY
The State Energy Conservation Policy of 2017 was set up to achieve energy saving target of 1000 MW in Maharashtra during the period from FY 2017-18 to FY 2021-22 and promote large scale implementation of energy-efficient technology in residential, commercial and industrial establishments.
Building Efficiency in Maharashtra
The Energy Conservation Building Code (ECBC) was developed by India’s Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) for a minimum of 25% energy saving in commercial buildings with a connected load of 100kW or contract demand of 120 kVA and above. Maharashtra has completed several projects to demonstrate actual energy savings of ECBC compliant buildings which offered a significant reduction in energy bills and greenhouse emissions.
Strengthening Power Distribution Companies (DISCOMs)
The greatest energy losses that our power sector faces occur in the distribution stage when the amount of electricity that reaches end-users is less than the amount of electricity generated.
Every year, the government allocates funding and undertakes special programs for capacity building of DISCOMs to reduce technical losses in electricity transmission and distribution projects. Interventions at the state level can directly improve the performance of distribution companies, leading to greater gains for the sector. This in turn helps to reduce electricity tariff rates and the financial burden of the state government. The private sector has also been encouraged to split the load which means that there will be a stronger focus on good power quality, capacity utilization and energy efficiency.
kVAh Billing System
The Maharashtra Energy Regulatory Commission (MERC) introduced kVAh billing in April 2020 for all HT & LT consumers having a load higher than 20kW. The kVAh based billing focuses on improving Power Factor and power quality in industries.
In the previous kWh billing regime, consumers were charged separately for real and reactive energies, with incentives/penalties levied on the power factor. Under the new kVAh billing regime, an inbuilt incentive/penalty mechanism implies that the two energies need not be charged separately. So there is an incentive for consumers to draw minimum reactive power and pay fewer energy charges for utilizing power efficiently.
ADVANCING ENERGY EFFICIENCY IN MAHARASHTRA
Maharashtra has shown the way for India’s transition to a cleaner future with policies to make stakeholders of the energy sector more resilient and sustainable. The government has attracted notable investment to create the right kind of energy climate while private players are expected to spearhead energy efficiency development in the state.
In order to minimize revenue losses, conduct business smoothly and grow in an eco-conscious manner, energy users in Maharashtra have embraced emerging technologies including Artificial Intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT) and Cloud Computing. With the IT/ITES Policy this year, a cohesive framework for technology companies, incentives for research and innovation, and powerful synergy between the state and industry is forthcoming.
Renewable energy capacity is already significant and steadily growing every year, but much of it is going waste. What we need to do is minimize wastage with a reliable energy management system. And much of this would not be possible without digitalization. Digitalization of energy management has improved the performance of buildings in Maharashtra and is essential to ensure that all stakeholders move towards the decentralized energy system of the future.
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