For a tropical country like India, air conditioning is a key aspect for retail chains; Quick Service Restaurants, supermarkets and ATMs require optimal air conditioning to maintain customer comfort and eventually lead to repeated engagement and improved sales. The hefty electricity bills at the end of the month tell another story though, as they add to the overall cost exorbitantly. Imagine the plight of a corporate that has to pay a monthly average electricity bill running in at least five digits across their multiple outlets. Undoubtedly, the cost sheet accounting for electricity cost alone at the year end runs into crores.
Current estimates show that there are more than 50,000 organized retail outlets (with chains of 50 or more outlets each) and more than 3.5 Lakhs branches of banks (including ATMs) and financial institutions. With average monthly electricity spends of Rs 30,000 per site, achieving just 10% savings across all these retail outlets amounts to a total savings of approximately Rs. 1500 crores per annum. This is equivalent to the savings produced by replacing 3 crore light fittings with LED lights or reducing 30 lakh tonnes of CO2 emissions per annum. This number will simply shoot up if we take into account the numerous unorganized retails outlets.
Optimizing the cost by saving electricity has multifold benefits like improving profit margins, freeing up wasteful electricity that can be used elsewhere (after all the end user wasting the electricity pays for it but it is of no use to anyone), a healthier environment and eventually a greener planet. Can something be done to reduce these inflated spends and optimize the electricity usage simultaneously? Probably yes!
With technological advancements in the IoT space, many options are available for retail outlets such as QSRs, supermarkets, telecom stores, banks and cold storage chains to undertake steps towards maximizing savings and minimizing resource wastage. India has now given birth to startups that are at the forefront of innovation in this segment, providing products/solutions that monitor and analyze energy consumption (and other associated parameters such as temperature and humidity) patterns, analyze the large volume of data generated and based on the analysis perform automated and intelligent controls along with providing predictive and preventive maintenance of the electrical assets. In addition to improving the “Profits” for the company through energy savings, analysis of the collected data and automated controls for the electrical assets can help contribute towards the “People” that matter - improving employees productivity and providing customers with a consistent and comfortable experience. An indirect offshoot of this energy efficiency is the contribution of organization towards the “Planet” - a greener future and promotion of sustainable living. That is like killing three birds with one stone - targeting the 3 Ps - Profits, Planet and People. So if you are looking for energy efficiency in your restaurant chain or energy efficiency in your cold chain or energy efficiency in your grocery stores, step up to the new technology and embrace the 3 Ps.
The think tank NITI Aayog, in its three year agenda (2017-2020) which formulates policies for various sectors responsible for economic growth of the country has also laid special emphasis on the energy sector. It concluded that the country must add 6.1 Gigawatt electricity generation capacity through conventional sources Together with the focus on increased and sustainable generation, there is a need to optimally use whatever we generate (India has one of the poorest average transmission and distribution losses in the world). There arises the need for energy efficiency. Government has indeed realized this need and has put in the recent focus on delivering energy efficiency by replacing inefficient equipments with efficient ones - LED lights for homes and streets, 5 star rated appliances (ACs, refrigerators) and efficient water pumps for agricultural use.
With Big Data and IoT being the order of the day, the progressive move of targeting data driven operational energy savings in addition to the current focus on retrofitting the inefficient appliances with more energy efficient appliances will result in significant additional energy savings. Together with a focus on renewable energy generation, this three pronged strategy can provide significant advantage for India to take a global leadership position in energy efficiency and environmental sustainability. While the government wakes up to this realization, some specific sectors like retails chains already have a business case for adopting such new age technologies and contributing to their triple bottom line of People, Planet and Profits.
The article has been penned down by Dr. Amarjeet Singh, CTO & Co-founder, Zenatix