Today's Paper

Time to move forward to meet India’s energy crunch?

Divya Gandhi

BANGALORE: It might appear to be rather too simple a solution to the energy crisis. Could a mere tweak of the hands of the clock, setting it forward by half an hour, significantly lower evening peak electricity demand to save India Rs. 1,000 crore annually?

By setting Indian Standard Time forward six hours ahead of Universal Coordinated Time (now it is five and a half), as much as 16 per cent of the evening peak energy demand would be saved, concludes a research paper published in Current Science.

The extra half-hour of daylight that we will gain will be particularly useful in keeping lights off in the domestic sector that accounts for 23 per cent of total energy consumption, say authors Dilip R. Ahuja, Professor, National Institute of Advanced Studies (NIAS); D. P. Sen Gupta, Honorary Professor at NIAS; and V. K. Agrawal, Director, Southern Regional Load Dispatch Centre.

Basing their estimate on regional and seasonal load curves, they explain: “A typical load curve has a double-hump shape. The morning peaks, caused mainly by water-heating (in winters, also some amount of space heating), are generally lower than the evening peaks, caused mainly by domestic, commercial and street lighting loads.”

And there are other potential advantages, Prof. Sen Gupta told The Hindu, although they are less easy to quantify. “It would help bring the northeast into the mainstream, reduce traffic fatalities, extend after-work shopping hours for busy working women who will be able to return home earlier.” This may even reduce the cases of night crime.

However, say the authors, the IT and BPO sectors might not be too pleased with this proposal: it will distance them in time even further from clients in the United States.

“It is a win-win situation, and we hope to present the centre with a convincing argument,” Prof. Sen Gupta said, adding that he had opposed the idea of two time zones in the country that the Planning Commission proposed in their report on integrated energy policy in 2006.

“By advancing Indian Standard Time for the country as a whole, we will avoid risks, like trains accidents for example, that could arise with multiple time zones and bi-annual shifts.” He added it would take no more than one or two years to plan for the change, with hardly any investment.

Recommended for you