A study undertaken by CSE says the lockdown exposes how badly designed, heat-trapping buildings kept Delhi’s residential electricity demand to near normal levels even when the economy slowed down. Delhi’s hunger for electricity remained high despite an exodus of 7-8 lakh migrants from the city validating the class disparity in electricity consumption in the city. It means the city’s voracious appetite for electricity is almost entirely fueled by its rich. The analysis challenges the current approach of focusing largely on technology solutions in buildings and neglecting the architectural design and material solutions to reduce heat load and improve thermal comfort. Need an immediate strategy to develop and operationalize thermal comfort standard mandated by the India Cooling Action Plan to make thermally comfortable buildings for all income classes, CSE says. Lockdown has brought the economy to a near halt, overall electricity demand in Delhi, after an initial drop during hard lockdown 0.1, recovered quickly to almost near-normal levels; – says the analysis by Centre for Science and Environment on the electricity demand and correlation with weather data during the successive stages of lockdown and unlocking in Delhi. This trend was largely driven by the heat stress and cooling demand in the residential sector. “Higher heat stress this summer combined with thermal discomfort in poorly designed buildings and increased dependence on air conditioning upset the energy budget. Every degree rise in heat index resulted in 187MW increase in electricity demand during lockdown – this was 6 percent higher than in 2019,” says the CSE analysis. The lockdown occurred during summer when heat waves lash Delhi. Increased thermal discomfort increased the demand for active cooling or air conditioning. In its study, CSE carried out a rapid analysis of real-time electricity demand during the lockdown and unlocking phases in Delhi. CSE accessed real-time electricity consumption data of 5-minute granularity from the State Load Dispatch Center in Delhi, the apex body responsible for integrated operations of Delhi’s power system. It has also accessed weather data of 15-minute granularity from the continuous ambient air quality monitoring (CAAQM) stations that are reported by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB). Need awareness building: Run aggressive market awareness campaigns to sensitize both the construction community as well as the end-users towards the multiple benefits of energy-efficient buildings—reduced operational costs, health and comfort, environmental and societal benefits, CSE says.
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