Swedish man in front of technical equipment. Photo.

Breaking through; the need for efficiency awareness

Still a long way to go in India, before energy efficiency goes mainstream.

India is working on two fronts to meet the rapidly increasing energy demand, with strong commitment to both renewable energy production and energy efficiency. Klas Berglöf, CEO, Climacheck, talks about the journey that needs to be undertaken before industry can appreciate and benefit from energy efficiency measures.

Climacheck has been with the Accelerator programme from the beginning. Why is India of interest for you?

In India, there is a huge problem of leakages and inefficiency in electricity use. People and even large organisations use technology that consumes a lot more electricity, where all the components may not be performing at par. Our device checks which components are not performing as they should be and are using more electricity.

The Climacheck technology allows a complete analysis of every operating parameter for any type of air-conditioning, refrigeration or heat pump system. This allows for a potential savings of up to 30% of electricity, if one invests in the right technology.

The Climacheck technology can be installed in a household unit and also in malls, hotels or offices. It takes only 30 minutes to install in a house and about three hours for larger units. Once it is installed, it tells you your energy consumption and which components are performing well and which need to be replaced. It tells you exactly where your power is being lost.

In India, there is a big problem of over consumption and power outages. The grid is unable to take the load and keeps failing. This means energy is consumed to use generators and invertors to keep places like malls and offices cool. If such places invest in this technology, they will be more efficient with their energy use.

What has been the uptake from the Indian market?

People in India don’t yet believe in precaution instead of cure. They install cooling systems that are not efficient and lose 20% to 30% power, which is a lot. They sign a maintenance agreement with the company and when the system fails, the company makes a lot of money since the clients just want the system fixed and do not care how much it costs

Say the air conditioning stops working in a hotel, the hotel will not care about how much it costs to fix the air conditioning as long as it is fixed as soon as possible. Air conditioning companies make money by providing a service that can easily be avoided.

If our product is simply fixed in these systems, they would increase their efficiency and also be able to identify where the energy is being lost and what component is not performing up to par.

Was Sweden in a similar position at one point, where there was not enough understanding of how energy efficiency measures can actually save money? What caused the change?

The situation is very similar all over the world. The equipment owner generally lacks technical expertise, and thus is focused much more on initial cost than on long-term energy savings. The cost and savings for commissioning preventive maintenance and energy optimisation are hard to calculate. This is especially true when baselines are not available.

The pressure and awareness about the importance of energy efficiency is growing globally, with increasing energy prices and environmental concerns. But equipment owners and the refrigeration and air-conditioning industries are just slowly starting to adapt to the new situation. We still find an energy saving potential of 10-30% through low cost optimisation measures in most plants around the world. Gradually, incentive programs in North America and regulations in Europe are starting to re-direct the focus. There are interesting business opportunities since equipment owners are focusing more on energy efficiency. India is not very different, but might have a more fragmented industry with a wider spread of competence in the servicing sector than North America and Europe.

India has taken up ambitious targets in renewable energy, especially solar. This wasn’t the case as recently as 8 years ago. What do you think is the next shift/tipping point needed for Indian businesses to understand the value of working with energy efficiency?

I wish I could see the tipping point, but after 30 years with a strong focus on energy optimisation and reliability in the after-market, I believe that absolutely the most cost effective energy saving measure is re-commissioning the existing plants. To replace plants is extremely costly and does not necessarily ensure better performance, whereas optimisation almost always gives direct and significant results. It is clear that awareness is increasing, but it demands that millions of equipment owners and hundreds of thousands in the installation and service sector must increase their competence. This means investing in training and tools, so it will all take time. This said, even if only a few percent change today, it is a major business opportunity and can have large energy saving impacts, as refrigeration and air-conditioning use 20% of the global electricity.

More about Climacheck

ClimaCheck portable Performance analyser used for inspection on a hotel in Chennai, India.

Klas Berglöf. Photo.
Technical equipment. Photo.