Another area where one can save energy is by using efficient uninterrupted power supply (UPS) units. We have a lot of indigenous innovations in this space. For example, there is a high-capacity UPS system for enterprises, designed by Uniline, that uses a high-frequency pulse-width-modulated rectifier/inverter system based on insulated-gate bipolar transistors. By doing this, they have managed to achieve an input power factor (PF) greater than 0.99 and a total harmonic distortion less than five per cent. High input power factor helps to reduce the power consumption by as much as 30 per cent. Also, the systems are designed for hot Indian climate and do not even require air-conditioning—another power saver!
3. Let the sun in!
Every commercial building’s rooftop has a large unused area. Solar panels can be installed and used for a variety of purposes ranging from water heating to lighting. They can be used especially to power areas of a building that are lit by LEDs. “I say this because the solar panels’ light-to-electricity conversion efficiency is low and even a large panel will not produce large amounts of power. However, the power produced by these panels is more than adequate to power LED lamps. An inverter with over 95 per cent efficiency can be used to convert the solar power into usable alternating current (AC),” says Ananthaswamy.
Ananthaswamy goes on to explain that one can benefit from a solar panel for thirty years. The barrier to entry today is the cost of the panels, sensors, monitors, etc. However, if you amortise the cost over thirty years, it ends up being inexpensive. In the last six to eight months, the cost-per-watt of solar power has come down 30-40 per cent. With the National Solar Mission and other government subsidies, solar power will become affordable in the near future. The breakeven for solar panels until recently used to be seven years, but now it is just around three years. Added solar panel capacity and the wider adoption of renewable energy through awareness will bring the breakeven point even lower.
What is more, solar energy does not have to be tapped only from the rooftops. According to recent news reports, Dow Jones, the media giant, is going in for an unprecedented solar panel installation. The 4.1-megawatt solar power system will be installed at its 200-acre campus in South Brunswick, New Jersey, next year, and cover nearly 21,368 sq. m of parking space. This is an excellent example of solar energy being tapped in large areas other than the terrace! Believed to be one of the largest installations of its kind, it is hoped that the captured energy will provide for 15 per cent of the campus’ power needs. During very sunny periods, it might even provide 50 per cent of the required power. It is believed that the investment will breakeven in as early as three years.
4. Hot or cold, keep it within your control
Notable energy-guzzlers, be it at your home or in a commercial establishment, are the HVAC systems. As a natural consequence of the ongoing green drive, various manufacturers are coming out with energy-efficient HVAC systems.
For some time now, energy-saving features have been there in air-conditioners (ACs): sleep-mode timers, temperature control, etc. Of late, ACs are also being fitted with so-called ‘magic eyes’ or motion sensors, which detect the presence of people and lower the temperature setting or capacity automatically when the occupants leave the room, reverting to the presets as soon as the room is occupied again.
Brushless DC motors for air-conditioning compressors and built-in inverter control are the other energy-saving technologies taking over the air-conditioning space. Though these technologies have been spoken about since 2005, it’s only now that they have become mainstream. Inverter-fitted ACs, as against older models, can work in variable capacities. So once the required temperature is attained, these ACs simply shift to a lower capacity rather than shutting down and restarting the compressor—a process that consumes a lot more energy.