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Role of Education in Energy Conservation

- by H. S. Kamath and R. V. Nesari ( EnerCon Solutions Pvt. Ltd. Pune)

Introduction Indias energy intensity per unit of GDP is about 3.7 times that of Japan, 1.4 times that of Asia and 1.5 times that of USA. It indicates a very high amount of energy wastage and also gives an idea about potential of energy saving that can be achieved. Indias present economic growth of about 8 to 9% per year is causing a lot of stress on commercial energy resources, most of which are from fossil fuels. It is also well known fact that increased use of fossil fuels is causing a detrimental effect on the environment due to more emissions of Green House Gases (GHGs). Indias proven coal reserves are estimated to be 70 billion MT consisting of mainly low grade coal. It may last for more than 200 years. Known oil and natural gas reserves may last only for about 18 and 25 years respectively. India imports nearly 70% of oil requirement. With rising prices of crude oil it is eating up a large portion of export earnings. In order to maintain the present high economic growth an integrated approach consisting of judicial mix of investment in supply side growth and efficiency, use of renewable energy technologies and Demand Side Management (DSM) through operational efficiency improvement, reduction in T & D losses, eliminating wastage of energy resources is the need of the hour. A fairly conservative estimate of potential for energy conservation in various sectors of economy is as follows: Table-1: Energy Conservation Potential in various sectors of Indian economy Sector Indian Economy as a whole Agriculture Industrial Transport Domestic and commercial Source: Planning Commission Potential % Up to 23% Up to 30% Up to 25% Up to 20% Up to 20%

In spite of many efforts at different levels and benefits of energy efficiency, several technical, financial and policy barriers have affected realization of full potential benefits of energy conservation. Some of these barriers are: a) Lack of awareness in industry managers, policy makers and general public. b) Lack of widespread education and training about energy management and conservation at different levels. c) Economic and market distortions causing irrational response to energy conservation measures. d) Lack of standardization and labeling of equipment and devices. e) Lack of financing for investments in energy efficiency improvements. f) Lack of effective coordination at various levels to promote energy conservation activities. However, during last five years since the Government of India enacted Energy Conservation Act2001, the environment for energy conservation and improving energy efficiency is more conducive. The Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) under the Ministry of Power has been entrusted the responsibility of implementation of policy programmes and coordination of implementation of energy conservation activities with the involvement of other centre and state level agencies like Maharashtra Energy Development Agency (MEDA) for Maharashtra. First two barriers listed above viz. lack of awareness and lack of widespread education and training are the most important impediments for progress in energy conservation because of their major influence on the attitude and behaviour of the energy consumers at individual and group level. Without

changing the attitude and behaviour of the end users, improvements in efficiency through investments in improved technologies alone will not be successful. Less consumption of energy by improving efficiency, avoiding wastages without sacrificing comfort or standard of living is in the interest of everybody - individuals, each family, business and industry and India as a nation. This can be achieved with good habits, attitude and behaviour of every individual. Some of the simple good habits of energy saving are Use of energy saving lighting at home, commercial building and public places. Switching off lights, fans, air-conditioners etc. in unoccupied areas. Use of energy efficient cars and other vehicles. Good driving habits like driving at optimum speed to obtain the best fuel efficiency, avoiding use of braking too often by speed control. Switching off electronic equipment like TV, computers, DVD/VCD players, music system when not in use without keeping them on stand by mode. Use of public transport and walking to the maximum extent possible

Involvement of everybody- children, youth and adults- is essential in energy conservation and this is possible by educating them appropriately and modifying their behaviour. Educational initiatives to raise awareness about energy conservation and saving issue will have more impact on young people. At present environmental education incorporates some portion on energy studies mainly dealing with sustainable development. But what is needed is specific energy education programmes, which will help in developing sustained changes in the behaviour and attitude of current and future energy consumers in India. Aims and Objectives of Education in Energy Conservation Three general objectives can be met with proper education on energy conservation: Identification of roles of society and individuals regarding energy conservation and saving. Creation of better awareness of the energy issues and their background. Imparting deeper understanding of the benefits of actions on energy conservation to society and individuals.

Structure of Educational Programmes In developing energy education programme, the people are at the centre of focus with the main theme in mind that everyone in the country has to play his/ her role in selecting efficient technology in every sphere of energy consuming area like work places, homes, vehicles etc. Everyone should be able to derive the benefits of energy efficiency for himself, his family, society and the country. Educational programmes on the energy conservation should aim at students- in schools and collegesto develop understanding about capabilities, costs and impact of different energy sources and practical aspects of energy such as availability. This should take into account considerations regarding climatic and social conditions of the regions. The students should be encouraged to make proposals to solve the energy problems through experimentation, innovation and holistic approach adapting to local situation. Awareness about energy conservation and saving in school children of all ages can be brought through education programme that provides a balance between theory and practical aspects through lectures, demonstration, developing hands-on skills through training, and exposure to design and manufacturing. Benefits of educational programme should be able to demonstrate the positive consequence of changing behaviour. When people understand that energy conservation and energy saving means saving money and considerable savings can be achieved through simple practical steps, it will contribute towards achieving the target of energy conservation. So the change of behaviour can be brought through the fundamental motivation of personal benefits. Also a clear message should be spread that lower energy consumption combined with increased use of cleaner source of energy will reduce pollution leading to health benefits like less expenditure on health, reduced GHGs and climatic changes.

It is well known fact that large part of our ideas, knowledge and our adult behaviour are influenced by our education in the childhood. Education obtained during childhood do mould our individual attitudes by exposing ourselves to new ideas and concepts. All parents might be aware how much influence teachers have on students. If you tell your child something which is contrary to what has been taught in his school, the child wont accept your teaching. So teachers can influence positively the behaviour of the students regarding energy conservation. Young students should be exposed to project based learning by studying and analyzing a particular situation and search for alternate answers and provide the best solution. It is also true that children and youth accept and adapt to new ideas or change faster than the adults. You may realize this from the example of Personal Computers (PC) in our lives today. Children and youth learn the operation of PCs quickly whereas the most of the adults are afraid to learn operation of a PC and even after learning often struggle to operate it. Therefore, it has to be taken into account that the learning process for different categories of people is different. A number of factors such as existing level of awareness, age, gender, regional, social and cultural background have to be taken into account while imparting the energy conservation education. Its design should be such that it will create interest and influence the attitude and behaviour of the group of people. For kids and youth the best forum to impart the education in energy conservation is schools and colleges. For them, teachers are the principal source of educational information and also source of creating interest in the subject. So, imparting the knowledge and acceptance of new ideas/ values will depend on the enthusiasm of teachers and methods they use while teaching the subject to create interest in the subject. Teachers also come from diverse background. The teaching of the subject should have flexible approach. It has been observed in many cases that teaching quality and learning experience is higher when the teachers modify or refine the teaching material provided based on their experience on the subject. For the success of the energy conservation education, educational policy makers have to develop a suitable framework to encourages projects on energy saving and energy awareness. In Maharashtra, MEDA is playing an important role as regional energy agency in imparting energy conservation education by creating energy parks at different places in the state. For implanting new ideas about energy conservation in adults, the education has to be outside school. The messages and methods for adult education in energy conservation have to be different from that for children and youth. In this case, messages can be conveyed more effectively through entertainment. For adults the education has to be more informal. TV is one such powerful medium that can be used effectively. However, the programmes should not be preaching type. They should convey the messages and develop interest about energy conservation in the minds of all who see the programmes. Quiz and interactive programmes are likely to be more effective in case of adults. For professionals in energy related work, agencies like BEE, MNES and MEDA are active through their websites and various forums like workshops, seminars in training technical workforce engaged in energy management and introducing to newer developments in the field of energy conservation and sustainable energy. Some universities like Pune, Indore and institutes like Maharashtra Institute of Technology, Pune and IITs have developed post graduate programmes in energy conservation. There is a good response for these programmes. We are able to achieve some degree of success through the work done by these agencies. However, it is still a long way to go to achieve more in energy conservation and sustainable development of our country which can be attained only through education of all people so that they tune their habits/ behaviour to save more and more energy for the benefit of themselves, and the society as a whole. The following concrete steps can be taken in the schools in order to impart awareness of energy conservation among the school children: 1. Include subjects covering energy conservation in the curriculam starting from say fifth standard. 2. Display posters with catchy illustrations and words on the theme of energy conservation 3. Celebrate Energy Conservation Week once a year in December along with National Energy Conservation Day on 14th December and organize competitions, exhibitions, workshops etc on energy conservation 4. Practice what you preach to drive home the importance of energy conservation in the childrens mind. Necessary teaching material and teaching aids should be made available to the teachers to make their teaching interesting and effective. Agencies like BEE /MEDA can be of great help in this regard.

In Engineering colleges and Diploma level courses, adequate coverage of this subject needs to be given. Students should get familiar with the available energy efficient technologies and equipment along with methods of achieving better energy efficiency in the systems and equipment which are common in most industries. Once they get this exposure, they will be able to contribute in improving energy efficiency in their sphere of activity. Improving energy efficiency is a national mission This can be achieved by educating and motivating the entire cross section of the society. By targeting school and college students for imparting knowledge in this field, the future consumers and decision makers can be prepared to play a meaningful role in energy conservation through their better habits and behaviour. (Authors of the article are BEE certified energy auditors)

by Mr. H. S. Kamath Email: kamathsadanand@hotmail.com

Mr. R. V. Nesari Email: rvnesari@gmail.com