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Residential Building Stock and its Relevance in India


Energy Review, Vol 4. Issue 10. 2022

Since 1971, the energy consumption in residential buildings has multiplied about fifty times in India. As per the data published by the MoP, GOI, by 2017, homes in India have consumed three times of the same consumption level in 2000. In April 2018, India claimed 100 per cent electrification of urban and rural areas. The International Energy Agency (IEA) reported that nearly 750 million people got access to formal electricity connections in last two decades (2000-2019). As per a study conducted by USAID in 2011, about 20 billion Mt2 (nearly 400% rise from the 2010 level) building floor area will be added to the building stock by 2030 (Kumar, et al., 2010). Following these trends, it is evident, that with an increase in energy access and the built-up area, the energy consumption level in residential buildings is going to go up rapidly in the coming decade. Data published by MoSPI, GOI, in 2019, shows the domestic sector consumes 24.20 per cent of the total annual energy consumed in India with a 6.23 % rise from the previous year. Hence it is important for a developing economy like India to look into the energy consumption of the residential sector. It will help to flatten the energy demand curve, which is likely to witness a sharp rise in the coming decades.

The rise of the Indian middle-income class aspiration for energy-intensive appliances has led to higher consumption levels. A survey done in 2012 reported that 23 per cent ownership of refrigerators in households, whereas air conditioners were only available to only 2 per cent of the sample (Desai & Vanneman, 2018). Moreover, technology is also updating faster than ever. The air conditioners in Japan became 90 percent more efficient as compared to 1996. On the other hand, the price of air conditioners dropped by 80% since then (Abhyankar, Shah, Park, & Phadke, 2017). These user level transition in energy consumption is going to shape the future of Indian energy landscape, where the residential sector will define the balance between economic and environmental sustainability. As a free market economy, India must grow its internal consumption to keep the demand growing, which in turn fuels the growth of the economy. However, the demand for more energy may require an increase in fossil fuel-based power generation capacity, which has an evident environmental cost. Hence understanding shifting user consumption behaviours and preferences may help to reorganize and realign the energy-distributing services in order to lower wastage due to efficient appliances and uses.

There are three major benefits of developing a better understanding of the energy consumption in Indian homes -

It will help to effectively frame and execute policies and programs for energy efficiency. Knowledge of user preferences and expectations will help to create an appropriate policy nudge to reduce demand without comprising the quality of user experience. Concurrent user consumption data can help to update policies to make them more responsive and relevant to the existing market conditions. Keeping policies in sync with the changing market dynamics can save costs for all stakeholders. UJALA LED Bulb program by the government of India has made energy-efficient lighting available to people of all income groups. With the increase in the volume of production, the supply increased, which eventually dropped the cost by 90 percent within a period of three years. Such policy-level decisions can turn around the consumption cost drastically.

1. The estimates prepared by the CEA (Central Electricity Authority) usually overestimate the future demand, which puts additional pressure on the generation capacity. Moreover, low demand and higher supply may disrupt the energy market and the entire supply chain with unsustainable pricing. The knowledge of the consumption pattern among user groups can help the utilities to make the tariff more attractive and rational. Moreover, redistribution of the existing production of energy based on demand and need may help to carve out a good share for people with lower income levels without compromising profits.

2. It will make the renewable generation capacity target of India easier. Achieving a target of 175 GW of renewable energy (till 2022) requires a deeper understanding of energy demand and consumption behaviour. These insights will help to integrate renewables into the existing distribution system. Due to its inconsistent and variable flow renewable, the integration will require a robust policy and implementation strategy to meet the service quality standards of distribution companies. It is critical to understand the socio-economic and socio-technical factors like affordability, willingness to pay, quality of energy access and the condition of the existing energy distribution systems. These factors can collectively decide the acceptability of such transitions among all classes of society.

In the existing scenario in the Indian energy landscape, there are three major thrust areas for consumption in residential buildings. The first area of improvement is the overall quality of access. Second, one is energy efficiency and conservation (both equipment performance and user behaviour). The third level of intervention is renewable integration and on-site microgeneration in residential buildings. However, all three of them require a better understanding of the various factors influencing consumption behaviour at the end-user level.

(Mr. Bibhu Kalyan Nayak is an academic researcher based in Jaipur with nearly a decade long teaching, consulting and research experience. An architect and environmental planner by profession. He has a keen interest in research related to Climate sensitive planning and Energy conscious design..) ■□■


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