Saving on electricity

ELectricity is our biggest export, the main source of revenue. Therefore, there is a heavy reliance on it.

What we are not realizing is that the export could be hampered if internal consumption keeps increasing as it has. Those monitoring this scenario are worried. Increased domestic consumption impacts revenue flow because of the differences between domestic and export tariff.

For the record, in the last three years, domestic consumption shot up from 1,828 million units (MU) to 2,057 MU. About a decade ago, domestic consumption was 460MU. To feed the growing need we import electricity from India when the water level drops in the winter and cannot turn all the turbines.

In this light, while we have not been able to diversify our export base, it is only wise to save energy that is consumed here. We cannot stop the growing demand. The private sector is expected to grow and create jobs. There is only so much the government can absorb.

Manufacturing companies need electricity and they need it throughout the year. One such industry’s need could light up a small town in terms of consumption. If the private sector is to grow we will see industries, manufacturing or service, established in the proposed industrial estates.

The project to provide improved electricity bulbs that consume less without compromising the brightness is a simple initiative, yet comes with huge benefits. If just by replacing the incandescent bulbs with light emitting diodes (LED) can save energy and cost, it should be encouraged.

It is not new to people. Those aware of the benefits are already using LED at homes and some even in offices. If all the estimated 700,000 households in the country switch to LED, the amount of energy saved is estimated at 2 million units (MU). This translates to Nu 4.64 million, enough to build a few additional classrooms, for instance. Such a simple initiative is benefitting both consumers and the government in terms of revenue.

LED is expensive. Some believe that one LED could buy them a carton of incandescent bulbs without knowing the savings from energy used. With awareness, people who pay electricity bills from their pockets will do so without having to be told, even without subsidies.

It is not so much private homes that need to be told. Unfortunately, it is the government offices and institutions that should also be targeted. It is not uncommon to see even 200W incandescent bulbs hanging in office toilets, in corridors and other places.

The bill is paid from the office budget and nobody feels the pinch. Those who use LEDs at home are not bothered to make an issue because it is not their responsibility.

1 reply
  1. irfan
    irfan says:

    There are three broad categories in consuming electricity in terms of connected loads…low voltage, medium voltage and high voltage consumers. Each such consumption unit will draw its power from some electrical devices called ‘transformer’ that has different ratings varying from low to high voltage supply and demand. But we don’t always calculate our electricity bills for rated or maximum power drawn; we pay for energy of units drawn or consumed.

    The older incandescent bulbs are purely of resistive loads. So for a given setting for brightness in lumens, one can easily expect an incandescent bulb to drain a bit more of voltage. If any of you reading this is an electrical engineer, you will know that with resistive loads, the voltage drawn is in line with the current component. As we move from inductive to capacitive loads, the voltage components changes from leading the current component to lagging it. It’s a bit technical to understand, but there is advantage when we move to CFL and these LED bulbs for lighting as we get more lumens for the same rated power as that of an incandescent buld. Energy consumed will depend on the technical definitions of electrical work done.

    Moving on to our three categories of consumers of Low, Medium and High voltage; they will be paying either no fixed charges or considerably higher fixed charges for maximum connected electrical loads. The usage charges or tariff paid always depend on units consumed and the regulatory pricing mechanism decides how much we pay per unit in the given tariff slabs. Moving to LED bulbs for lighting is of huge importance if we intend to fill in more within an allotted maximum connected load and there are benefits to earn in terms of lower tariff to be paid per unit of energy consumed. Even supply phases and frequencies get factored in and we know that in Bhutan it’s all hydro power generation, usually suitable for supplying rated peak loads. In our region thermal generators still remain the majority supply while nuclear power generation is considerably high in other regions.

    So saving in electricity remains a complex subject for engineering sciences in electrical and electronics. While at the same time it’s not as complicated as rocket science when it comes to switching to the right set of bulbs for lighting needs and simple concepts of photon.

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