Founded in 2009 by the Government of India, Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL) is a joint venture of four national Public Sector Undertakings – NTPC Limited, Power Finance Corporation Limited, Rural Electrification Corporation Limited and POWERGRID Corporation of India Limited. As South Asia’s first and foremost energy efficiency leader, EESL leads the market-related activities of the National Mission for Enhanced Energy Efficiency, one of the eight national missions under the Prime Minister’s National Action Plan on Climate Change. EESL has reduced India’s carbon footprint, peak energy demand, and electricity bills through energy efficiency intervention projects worth Rs. 43 billion in domestic lighting. Keeping in tune with the election season, we at LED World interacted via email with Venkatesh Dwivedi, Director (Projects), EESL, to get an overview of the status of its mega Street Light National Programme or SLNP. Below are the excerpts:
It has been about four years since the launch of SLNP. How would you rate the success so far? Kindly share some data on the number of conventional streetlights replaced with LEDs.
Since the launch of the Street Light National Programme (SLNP) in 2015, EESL has retrofitted over 89.15 lakh street lights with LEDs across 1400 cities in India. This has led to 5,988 million units of annual energy savings (as of April 24, 2019), translating to cost saving of over Rs 2,300 crore every year. The quality of lights has been given priority which has enabled EESL maintain an uptime of 97% for all street lights across the country. In addition to this, over 1 crore street lights have been retrofitted by the industry. Together, it has enabled peak demand reduction of 1500 MW, annual energy savings of 900 crore kWh, and mitigation of 62 lakh tons of CO2.
If we consider different regions in India, where do you see the maximum impact of this programme?
For SLNP, EESL has adopted a unique strategy by partnering with states, municipal bodies and urban local bodies. Under the programme, EESL invests on replacing the conventional street lights with LEDs, with no upfront cost to the municipalities, thereby making LED adoption even more attractive. If one were to go by inventory numbers, the states of Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh have been significantly impacted by this programme. For instance, in Andhra Pradesh alone, EESL has replaced 25.74 lakhs streetlights.
How would you spell the success of SLNP in rural areas? What hindrances have you faced while implementing the project in rural/remote areas?
After the success of LED public lighting in the urban areas through SLNP, both central and state governments are gearing up to take the benefits to the villages. In June 2017, Government of India announced that EESL would be retrofitting 10 lakhs conventional street lights with LED lights in gram panchayats of seven districts in Andhra Pradesh. As the first project for rural LED street lighting in the country under SLNP, EESL has retrofitted 18.5 lakh conventional street lights with LED in gram panchayats in Andhra Pradesh. Further, in the state of Goa approximately 2 lakh street lights have been retrofitted with LEDs out of which 189 are gram panchayats and 14 are municipalities. In addition to this, in Telangana over 30,000 street lights have been retrofitted with LEDs in two gram panchayats.
The government claims 100% electrification in India. How do you see this claim?
India today is at a precipice of socio-economic change and the world today looks up to us to be a partner in its effort for an energy efficient future. Towards its commitment to a low-carbon and energy-accessible future, the Indian government is putting in their best efforts. We believe that the upcoming majority government at the Centre will continue in line with this vision. Like any other business entity in India, EESL will also abide and operate by the rules of the land.
Please give your views on the implementation of UJALA. Which scheme (UJALA VS SLNP) according to you has fared better?
Well received among incredibly diverse audiences, both UJALA and SLNP are today considered the world’s largest energy efficiency programmes. As the implementing agency for UJALA, EESL has distributed over 35 crores LED bulbs across the country within four years, enabling Rs 18194 crores of annual savings, and reduction in carbon dioxide emissions by 3,68,43,054 tonnes per year. EESL has also facilitated the drop-in price for LEDs which has led to faster adoption of energy-efficient LED bulbs among the citizens of India. The cost of the LED bulb has been brought down by 85% over a period of three years. This, in turn, has led to a much larger pools of bidders, enhanced quality of the product and availability of better specifications for the consumers. Leveraging increased industry competition and mass procurement, EESL has adopted an innovative procurement strategy which has resulted in lowering the manufacturing cost of LED bulbs and the benefit of price reduction has been passed on to the consumers.
Additionally, as part of Gram Swaraj Abhiyan, Indian villages with a significantly large number of low income households have been able to buy LED bulbs for a special price of Rs 50 under the Unnat Jyoti By Affordable LEDs for All (UJALA) programme. The LED bulbs have equipped homes with energy-efficient, cost-effective lighting, with higher lumen output than conventional incandescent bulbs. This has not only translated into higher monetary savings for the end-consumer but also improved their quality of life and contributed to India’s economic growth and prosperity. The UJALA programme has also provided an impetus to domestic manufacturing and created favourable market conditions for the development of new and allied industries.
On a macro-scale, the programmes have triggered a far-reaching supply-demand chain reaction by delivering favourable economies of scale to a range of manufacturers while strengthening the domestic LED market. UJALA has thus created an ecosystem for high-quality products while enabling LED manufacturers to build a business that will potentially be able to compete at an international level. The programme has also been successful in bringing about a behavioural change among the consumers by generating awareness of the benefits of embracing energy efficiency.
The LED success story has not been confined to households but has been able to spread its wings to every nook and corner of the country through SLNP. As an implementing agency of the programme, EESL has replaced over 89.15 lakh street lights in over 1400 cities in India, leading to 5988 MUs of annual energy savings and cost saving of over Rs 2300 crore every year. To bring in mass-scale transformation, EESL has adopted a unique strategy of partnering with states, municipal bodies and ULBs. Under the programme, EESL replaces conventional street lights with LEDs at its own costs with no upfront investment by the municipalities, thereby making LED adoption even more attractive.
How does EESL’s business model work?
EESL recovers its investment over time by monetising energy savings resulting from a reduction in the energy and maintenance cost of the municipality. A seven-year contract with the local bodies guarantees a minimum energy saving of typically 45-50% and provides free replacements and maintenance of lights at no additional cost to the civic partners. EESL’s business model has enabled a new paradigm that is attractive, scalable, and has overcome barriers preventing the replacement of street lights. For instance, the Centralised Control and Monitoring System (CCMS) for remote operation and supervising has mitigated the lack of monitoring mechanism and warranties against technical defects.
General elections have begun in India. What kind of expectations do you have from the new government in the area of energy efficiency?
LED lighting offers higher efficiency, better illumination and life expectancy apart from being environmentally sustainable. EESL has been successfully implementing the LED programmes, UJALA and SLNP across the country and the benefits of the programmes are being appreciated by all stakeholders. We will continue to work closely with all our stakeholders including the government at the Centre and in the states, for the overall benefit of the residents to ensure reliable, quality and cost-effective benefits of efficient LED lights. Furthermore, India’s commitment to energy efficiency is steadfast, as energy efficiency is part of the country’s agenda and strategy for holistic long-term development.
In the near future, what new can be expected from EESL?
Along with sustaining India’s energy efficiency market, EESL is constantly looking for new technologies on the horizon. The Indian energy efficiency market is currently pegged at $12 billion and has a potential to reduce energy consumption by up to 20%. EESL is already attempting to transform and scale the markets for several energy efficiency solutions ranging from smart meters, electric mobility, solar lamps, solar rooftops, trigeneration, super-efficient air conditioners and energy efficient motors. We will continue to explore bringing to market new solutions that are relevant to India’s masses while enabling the larger ecosystem to facilitate their adoption, along with driving large-scale social impact.