Action plan to improve energy efficiency

Water and energy efficiency are the most cost-effective ways in which water delivery services can be improved for existing consumers, and meet India’s needs to increase water supply.

Water and energy efficiency are the most cost-effective ways in which water delivery services can be improved for existing consumers, and meet India’s needs to increase water supply. In September 2004, Madhav Kamath of The Energy and Resources Institute in Bangalore, India examined several factors that hinder efforts to improve efficiency (WWI, Vol. 19, Issue 5). In this article, he proposes an Action Plan to help municipalities enhance efficiency.

An action plan to address energy efficiency issues must involve municipal authorities from the level of operators to the top management. Capacity building should be given top priority to create awareness of the importance of energy efficiency among municipalities. This can be achieved by:

  • Building an energy efficiency team comprising all municipal staff;
  • Educating workers on energy efficiency issues (theoretical and on-site);
  • Demonstrating proven technologies;
  • Preparing tool kits for easy on-site evaluation of systems;
  • Training on latest energy-efficient technologies; and
  • Providing incentives to the staff.

Building an energy efficiency team (EET) comprising municipal staff mobilises a wide variety of resources that can improve communication within the municipality. In addition, teams are able to streamline efficiency project identification and implementation, and ensure the coordination of activities. A functioning team will make water and energy efficiency part of the water utility’s core business.

The purpose of creating an EET is to explore resources and tools that can maximise efficiency. The end result is to provide the same or greater benefits to the water end-user, and simultaneously reduce operating costs, energy use, waste, and per capita energy and water consumption. The EET’s roles are to:

  • Organise and coordinate water and energy efficiency efforts;
  • Generate a pool of technical knowledge/information to identify and implement projects;
  • Assemble pertinent data to identify inefficiencies; and
  • Create a management focus on water and energy efficiency.

Educating municipal staff, especially on the issues of energy and water, is very important. Most of the staff is aware if equipment efficiency falls to unacceptable levels. Initially, classroom sessions should be conducted to train the EET. All theoretical calculations relating to energy efficiency evaluation - such as flow-head-power characteristics - should be covered, whereby the loss (both water and energy) is evaluated in terms of “per day” figures, and the annual equivalent, both in terms of energy and cost. After a thorough understanding of the theoretical calculations, the next step is to practically evaluate “on-site” the parameters that dictate system efficiency.

This “evaluated efficiency” helps determine the necessary measures needed to improve the pumping system so that it corresponds to the capability of the original design figures. The energy efficiency study could reveal one or more of the following observations and/or necessary measures that should be taken:

  • Poor operating efficiency, due to ageing or poor maintenance practices;
  • Mismatch in heads from the design figures, resulting in poor operating efficiency of the pumping system;
  • Downward/upward revision of contract demand from electric distribution company;
  • Changes in distribution practices;
  • Rescheduling of pumping operations;
  • Power factor improvement at distribution panels, etc.
  • Transmission line water losses.

Knowledge and awareness on latest trends and technologies are extremely essential, particularly for municipal staffs that are closely associated with day-to-day routine activities. Upgrading equipment with the latest sophisticated instruments can greatly improve productivity. However the municipal staffs are usually not aware of new technologies for several reasons: routine activities leave no time to investigate available technologies, and staff often face knowledge constraints. For these reasons, demonstration workshops should be conducted at least every six months for all levels of municipal staff, particularly at the supervisory level to help them overcome barriers to adaptation of new technologies.

Tool kits for easy on-site evaluation of systems should be prepared for each installation, and serve as ready reference guides that should provide general guidelines for each pumping station. These include: monitoring of system pressure (by means of the pressure gauge); monitoring of power parameters such as kVA, kW, and pf frequency from the control panels; and overseeing efficiency evaluation calculation procedures of the pumping system.

Staff incentives should be implemented as one way to motivate employees to actively help to save energy costs. Incentives should be awarded based on actual energy savings that resulted from an employee’s performance or action initiated towards this goal. In return, the utility would benefit greatly from a motivated staff that is more open to adopting new, efficient technologies, developing improved, preventive maintenance schedules, open to adapting to new approaches, and more responsible in monitoring system parameters, such as flow, system pressure, motor-power drawn, and other parameters that affect energy consumption.

Energy efficiency is a critical component in municipal systems. Although many municipalities face difficulties in implementing some energy efficiency measures, they can improve system efficiency by popularising the importance of water and energy efficiency in water delivery services for consumers in India. Most importantly, however, senior management must actively implement at least some of the points included in the Action Plan, instead of continuing with current practices.

Author’s Note

Madhav Kamath is a research associate at The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) Southern Regional Centre, located in Bangalore, Karnataka, India. Email:

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