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Power sector mauled by malls, hotels

india Updated: Apr 26, 2013 01:45 IST
Neelam Pandey
Neelam Pandey
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

Did you know how much power your summer’s cool haven guzzles to keep you comfortable?

A mall uses anywhere between 4MW to 10MW of energy, depending on its size — enough to light up a small south Delhi colony comprising nearly 2,000 houses every day, says Delhi Transco. Five-star hotels too are big power guzzlers.

According to the Delhi Transco, electricity consumption in Delhi’s commercial sector makes for approximately 20% of the annual electricity consumption and the requirement is increasing by 7.65% per year.

A major load centre in shopping malls, markets, hotels and restaurants are their air-conditioning units, lighting and pumps, in that order.

Experts point out that malls and five-star hotels waste a lot of energy, and though the consumption levels can be brought down by as much as 50% in new buildings, nothing much has been done. The question now arises is why hasn’t the government stepped in.

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The environment department says it has identified and directed 14 hotels to put in place a solar heating system for which three months’ time has been given. If they fail to do so, strict action will be taken against them.

So far, no department maintains information on power consumption by malls.

A major load in shoping malls are thier AC units, loghting and pumps. HT file photo

However, the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) has now decided to collect information on their water and electricity consumption.

“Once this exercise is complete, we will hold workshops and suggest to them ways of reducing their current consumption by making use of alternative energy,” said a senior DPCC official.

However, Delhi’s power regulatory body claims that it cannot direct malls or hotels to regulate their consumption.

But at the same time it can ensure that power distribution companies should make use of alternative energy sources to help meet the gap between demand and supply.

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“It is the power distribution companies who are supposed to look for alternative sources of energy to meet Delhi’s peak demand. We can’t ask malls and hotels to procure solar energy. This year discoms, have an entire year to fulfil the renewable purchase obligation (RPO) and if they fail to do so penalty will be imposed,” said PD Sudhakar, secretary of Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission (DERC).

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However, malls and hotels too can act of their own accord and use solar energy. Not only is it eco-friendly, but they will also be able to bring down their operational costs. Mall rooftops will be an ideal space for installation of solar panels.

Across the world, a number of malls have installed solar panels to cut down on their cost and to do their bit in conserving energy.

For instance, California has become the top state in the United States in the generation of solar power.

According to the Solar Energy Industries Association, the state has enough solar capacity installed to power 362,276 homes.

A small step was taken in this direction when Sahara Mall in Gurgaon installed a petroleum natural gas (PNG) power back-up instead of a diesel one. PNG is both cheaper and cleaner. Its head JK Gupta said installing solar panels on the mall’s roof was next on agenda.

BR Wasan of the MGF mall occupants’ association said: “Mall managers too believe that in the context of present-environment, going green is the best way forward. It will not only help the environment, but will also bring down the operational costs.”

However, till now not a single mall in Gurgaon has rooftop solar panels, forget the advanced green building features like geo-thermal cooling or water-harvesting systems.

Finally, the government had to step in and force all such establishments, except eateries and cineplexes, to shut shop for at least one day in a week to bring down their power consumption. (With inputs from Gurgaon)

Case study
Green’ unit cuts 60% power needs
Pulse Magnetic and Power Electronics
Gurgaon: Here is a manufacturing-cum-office unit of an electronics company that hardly utilises 40KW of power in a day.

Pulse Magnetic and Power Electronics, located in Gurgaon’s industrial hub of Udyog Vihar, may be a small-scale industrial unit but it has managed to keep pace with today’s ‘green’ standards.

Spread over an area of 450 sqm with a three-floor building and two basements, the unit does not have a single air-conditioner for its 70-odd employees. Even the firm’s managing director, TB Baranwal, works from a non-AC chamber.

Baranwal explained that the industrial complex has a well-laid out air circulation system that makes air-conditioning redundant.

“We have put in special air ducts that take the filtered atmospheric air into a tunnel that is 20-feet below the ground. From there, the air travels to our air handling unit, which is at times sprinkled with water, and then towards the various ducts opening into various floors,” he said.

Besides, there are 14 turbo exhaust fans on the building’s terrace that constantly remove inside air and help maintain freshness inside. And these fans run on natural wind.

Baranwal did something unique on the terrace. The concrete surface of the terrace has been covered with earthen cups filled with a mixture of sand and cow dung.

Then tiles were put over them, which were then painted white so that they absorb the least amount of sun’s heat.

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“For a building of this size and my industrial operations, I would have needed 100 KW of power every day. But we have cut down the requirement by almost 60 per cent,” said Baranwal. By Deevakar Anand