Community-scale Energy Demand Reduction in India (CEDRI)

Lead Research Organisation: Heriot-Watt University
Department Name: Sch of Energy, Geosci, Infrast & Society


CEDRI is a consortium of expertise in sustainable buildings, power electronics, demand modelling and energy behaviours across Heriot-Watt University, Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Delhi, IIT Bombay and the Tiruchirappalli National Institute of Technology. The project will, through the application of demand synthesis models to Indian case-studies, propose clear guidance for demand reduction/management in households to ensure future-resilient provision of electricity to Indian communities. The project sees a neglect of supply limitations as being a key risk that might hamper future demand reduction strategies.

Whilst many countries are seeing significant change in the use of energy in homes and the provision of that energy through local energy networks, the pace of change recorded in India is particularly notable. The "refresh" rate of the housing stock is high (with new build constituting a much higher percentage of the housing stock than many developed countries) and, simultaneously, the approach to delivering electricity to those homes is changing (e.g. the growth in distributed renewable generation, such as solar photovoltaics). If further change is to be planned amongst this already uncertain landscape, in the form of community-wide energy demand reduction strategies, then a full impact of such measures must be understood. Minimising cooling requirements, controlling/managing appliance loads and encouraging distributed generation should all be promoted in a way that i) is consistent and complementary to a functioning local electricity network and ii) relate to measures that are likely to be accepted across communities, rather than having only niche appeal.

The CEDRI project will allow for community electricity demand modelling through applied aggregation algorithms, converting small samples of individual building demand profiles into community-level profiles. After carrying out surveys and workshops with householders, the project will identify the demand-reducing measures likely to succeed in such regions (informed by real case-study communities and empirical data) and apply these to the community demand models to quantify potential impact. The ability of such changes to improve the local energy network will be fully investigated, such that measures deemed to successfully reduce total energy demand can be managed in a way that improves key characteristics of that network (such as frequency, voltage and peak demand). The project will therefore provide guidance that will ensure that approaches to demand reduction "co-evolve" with the methods used to supply electricity to residential communities, over future timescales that already have considerable levels of uncertainty.

Planned Impact

Academic impact will be achieved through standard routes of conferences and publication using the vast experience and contacts of the project team. Conferences will be highlighted that have UK, European, and global significance - but with specific dissemination routes in India (see Case for Support and Pathways to Impact). With our participation with the UK National Centre of Energy Systems Integration (CESI), UK-visibility of this work will be high. CESI also provides links to institutions outside that network directly but in close contact - such as the EPSRC End Use Energy Demand centres and other EPSRC projects such as WholeSEM. There is also considerable activity within the UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC) in the area of energy systems, such as the work of the Future Energy System Pathways, and synergies with other UK-India initiatives, such as the Joint UK-India Clean Energy Centre (JUICE) consortium. CEDRI will therefore contribute to this wider research initiative to improve links between UK and India in this mutually important field of work.

Non-academic impact will be achieved through the use of workshops (during the project) and a final dissemination event, with an accompanying industry-focussed report that crystallises the findings of the project. Two workshops are designed to receive feedback (as described in WP3) from householders associated with the chosen case-studies, but it will also provide an opportunity to disseminate initial findings to that audience. At the same stage of the project, there will be a third workshop with a practitioner audience, such that the direction that the project is heading can be re-calibrated based on industry feedback (if required). However, this will again provide an opportunity to have an impact on that audience from the initial findings, setting up (later in the project) the final dissemination event that will bring together all the key recommendations of the work for Indian practitioners across the different built environment and electricity network sectors covered by the project. Identified practitioners who will benefit from this work include: those in housing associations/organisation looking for sustainable demand-reduction strategies; regional authorities; housebuilding sector; electricity network providers and those involved with the maintenance of assets in those networks; policy-makers wishing to develop evidence-based policy around near-future energy networks in regions of India, and the important role of energy demand within these networks; technology providers (e.g. mechanical cooling, energy-efficient demand-side technologies, solar PV and other distributed generation) aiming to understand the wider impact of their technology (and the potential market).
Description 1. The current databases of energy demand of the built environment in India are diverse, regionalised (and therefore subject to limitations) and tend to have different motivations for their creation. Creating a coherent picture of energy use is therefore challenging - but demand data does exist and will benefit from a process of integration, harmonising this data into a format for different end-users. CEDRI case-study will add to this growing database
2. As well as data formatting/collection being diverse, energy use in India in itself is diverse. It is not possible to generalise conclusions from one area of India to another. Collected data already shows evidence of differences in building forms (urban vs rural), socio-demographics, income and geography/local climate. This reinforces the approach of CEDRI to develop portable methodologies, rather than using the study of relatively small regions of India to generalise recommendations for the entire country.
3. India has a relatively large number of "informal settlements" and homes that are less well regulated than other parts of the country. This includes nearly 100 million homes described as either "temporary" or semi-permanent". Such homes are likely to contribute to the continuing and projected growth in electricity demand of the country so greater efforts must be placed in better characterising the current energy use of those homes, whilst highlighting how those households (and houses) might evolve in the coming decades
4. Tools being used for energy demand modelling have to be tailored to specific countries, climates, technologies and householder demographics. This does not just relate to choices of inputs to those models but, also, the choice of calculation engine. Some aspects of "traditional" UK modelling tools (building energy performance simulation, energy network modelling etc) are transferable to, in this case, India but there must be a process of model auditing that is sensitive to the needs of a specific country.
Exploitation Route The data already collected by the project team shows trends of electricity demand in specific Indian homes, with initial indications of causation with external parameters. This is a useful characterisation exercise for those wishing to understand electricity demand patterns in countries like India - and this may include energy consultancies being employed by regional authorities and local network providers, as well as academic researchers. Ultimately, decisions on how to apply energy demand strategies (to be presented in the latter half of the CEDRI project) require this improved diagnostic of the current energy baseline, and appropriate methods which can be used to formulate this.

The tools being applied to different Indian communities by CEDRI are demonstrating the strengths, and limitations, of existing approaches to energy demand modelling for a country such as India. Those looking to bridge the bottom-up modelling of individual buildings with wider network modelling will be able to build on the current (and future) work of CEDRI to amend those models in a useful way. This includes the understanding of spatial and temporal resolution requirements of energy demand modelling, and the limits of extrapolation of such techniques. Some of these findings are generic (for researchers focusing on modelling in any country) but there are also specific issues for countries that are large, diverse, and with steep vectors of change in energy use, of which India is a prime example. As well as being a core concern of energy modellers, this has clear policy relevance to a country that is setting targets for limiting the increase of energy demand that is likely to be driven by population and economic growth in the near future.

The project is also about to carry out work which will align the technical understanding of demand with a description of householder practice and behaviour. This will allow for more targeted dissemination of the work, but the full findings of this will be presented at the next submission cycle.
Sectors Communities and Social Services/Policy,Construction,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Energy,Government, Democracy and Justice

Description The project has created links with external organisations in India (not previously part of the CEDRI project) that have been collating energy demand data. These companies, such as the Prayas Energy group in Pune and Environmental Design Solutions (with "CLASP") in Delhi, will now have access to additional databases of energy demand from CEDRI case-studies, that can complement their own. In return, CEDRI will have access to existing databases and will continue discussions with those organisations as to how future case-study development (e.g. householder surveys with occupants) can be run in a mutually beneficial way. With the aforementioned organisations having direct links to both energy industry and regional authorities, CEDRI outputs will now be used with this group of end-users in mind. This is currently in the early stages but later stage impact will be documented as the relationship develops. This will build on the current impact achieved already with these new partners.
First Year Of Impact 2018
Sector Energy
Impact Types Societal,Policy & public services

Description Socio-Techno-Economic Design of Energy Systems driven by Community Needs (Impact Acceleration Account)
Amount £120,000 (GBP)
Organisation Heriot-Watt University 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 09/2017 
End 10/2019
Title Auroville dwelling electricity data 
Description High resolution electricity demand data of sample homes in Auroville. Recorded using pulse meters, returning values every 1.25Wh. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2019 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact Characterises demand profiles of homes in case-study, for use with extrapolation and pattern-recognition models within the CEDRI project and elsewhere 
Title Auroville interview responses 
Description Between July 2018 and September 2019, thirty households in Auroville had their energy consumption monitored at 30 minutes temporal precision. Of the thirty households monitored, ten households were selected to participate in semi-structured interviews - relating to this named database. In addition, ten households were selected from other micro-communities within Auroville whose energy consumption was not being monitored. These qualitative-in-depth interviews explored individual motivation for the purchase of cooling technologies like air-conditioning and how this aligns with or contradicts self-defined identity or values. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2019 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact Twenty in-depth qualitative interviews with residents, thematically analysed, found that while people expressed strong environmental self-identity, preferences for air conditioner use was often mediated by hedonic factors such as comfort and sleep. Moral norms played a positive role in how people operated their air conditioners. Yet, when faced with the choice of using energy-efficient air conditioners, biospheric concern was of limited importance while situational factors like cost and functionality were more pivotal. The results raise interesting questions around the difficulties that might emerge in changing preferences around air conditioning behaviours in non-environmental communities, especially, if environmentally conscious communities which are expected to be "the locus of change for energy efficiency actions" are significantly influenced by hedonic values. The data will continue to inform the remainder of the project. 
Title Auroville substation data 
Description High resolution database of substation data serving the Auroville community, including power (kW) and voltage information. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2019 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact Being used to calibrate and validate models that attempt to estimate community energy profiles from a small sample of dwellings 
Title Household survey data of Auroville residents 
Description A selection of households within the Auroville community were surveyed on their energy use and related behaviour, particularly in relation to comfort during warm conditions (i.e. cooling and ventilation usage) and potential for demand-shifting for these activities. A series of factual questions were asked (do you own x, y, z, etc) and then a section consisting of a choice-based experiment was included. The latter allowed the participant to demonstrate preference around a series of actions/situations that may be used within an energy demand-shifting scenario. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2019 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact The results have been collated and are in the process of analysis. They are also being coordinated and correlated with other quantitative and qualitative data being collected by the CEDRI project. 
Title STL algorithm for electricity demand synthesis 
Description A decomposition algorithm that can disaggregate high resolution electricity demand into constituent signals, based on a pattern recognition process. Stochastic component is separated from seasonal/trend profile and modelled via a Hidden Markov Model approach. This allows for synthesising "new" demand profiles with similar characteristics, but which account for statistical diversity seen in the original sample datasets 
Type Of Material Computer model/algorithm 
Year Produced 2019 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact The tool has demonstrated statistical characteristics of electricity demand profiles that are influenced by location (in this case India), allowing for causation of those patterns to be explored. 
Description CEDRI project website 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact This website is a home for the project and overviews our main objectives and work. There is also a live update of publications and link to a research group twitter account. As the project progresses, this will also serve as a hub of our data collection, including the visualisation of the electricity demand patterns being recorded in Indian homes.

Although providing information that would be useful to academic colleagues, the website was also designed with industry and policy-maker engagement in mind. Such organisations are important for investigating the use of existing (external) datasets but also tailoring outputs of CEDRI to key end-user audiences. Therefore, when communicating with external parties (particularly those in India), the website has been useful in providing a detailed description of the work (and personnel) in a way that is meaningful to that type of audience.

It is also convenient, when engaging with householders and community groups, to have a portal that describes the project and allows for (where relevant) further interaction with those groups. This will be explored as the project progresses, but a facility is present to allow for external comments and interaction from a range of interested parties.

The website currently has over 1000 views but it is expected this will rise dramatically when the outputs of the project rise (as planned for the next 12 months) and its function is directed more towards some of the above user groups.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
Description Co-Production Workshop (Auroville) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact The CEDRI project is aiming to design energy demand reduction strategies for Indian households. In order to do this effectively, we wish to engage with householders directly to involve them in the design of those strategies. The workshop allowed for an initial discussion (in the form of a structured activity) to obtain feedback from householders to find out what they would be prepared to do, what they would be prepared to purchase, and the likely approach to operating with a new technology (or a desired new use of an existing technology). This is the first stage of allowing the project to construct a hierarchy of measures that may be successful for such communities, and identifying which markets may evolve for demand-reduction in future Indian households and how they may be optimised.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
Description Presentation at Scottish Ministerial and Universities Scotland Trade Mission to the British High Commission, New Delhi 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Presentation on Energy Research in Scotland to joint delegation audience at the British High Commission in New Delhi on the 3rd of December 2017. The subject was Energy Research in Scotland with a particular emphasis on energy utilisation in buildings. CEDRI and CESI were specifically mentioned due to their potential impact on energy modelling as India invests in new infrastructure in the built environment and smart energy systems.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
Description Stakeholder engagement workshop 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The event, an information session about the project followed by a workshop exercise, was attended by ten practitioners representing various organisations in India that are concerned with energy networks within that country. Approximately 15 CEDRI project members (and those associated with project members) also attended. Following a series of presentations on the CEDRI project by the research team, invited external stakeholders presented their areas of work. This was then followed by a structured discussion activity focussed on key questions that the team required feedback on from the practitioner audience. As well as demonstrating to that audience the state-of-the-art research being conducted by CEDRI in their respective areas, the CEDRI team also benefitted hugely from the experiences of the participants of the workshop. For both UK and Indian academics, the opportunity at "filtering" our research through individuals with hands-on experience of the sector was invaluable. This feedback will directly inform the future direction of this research by ensuring that the outputs are well-tailored to a specific end-audience. The event also ensured that the collaborative network of CEDRI, outside academia, was strengthened and several companies have arranged follow-up meetings with the team to continue these discussions.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020