How Retrofitting Motors is Equal to Planting 33 Million Trees in India

By Omer Basith, Director and CEO of Virtual Forest

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We intend to create a Virtual Forest the size of the Sunderbans National Park. A claim that no doubt needs some explaining.

There is a triangular equivalence that is now at the heart of the energy transition. “A rupee saved is a rupee earned” is interchangeable with “a watt saved is a watt generated” and also “CO2 avoided is CO2 sequestered”

Money, Carbon and Energy have become perfectly convertible.

Well, almost perfectly convertible. In practice, saving a watt of power is always cheaper than generating a watt of power, emissions prevented are considerably better for our planet than emissions sequestered, and this equivalence is often true in the case of money as well, not getting Starbucks is easier than generating a few hundred rupees. However, for the purpose of illustrating my thesis let’s say that the monetary value attached to savings and generation is the same.

The other concept I’d like to unpack is the notion of “Net Zero emissions”. A situation where greenhouse gas emissions equal greenhouse gas removal. Most climate models agree that net zero emissions by 2050 are an absolute must in order for us to avoid catastrophic global temperature increase.

In practice this would have to mean that the release of all the carbon that has been locked up for millions of years underground (through the burning of fossil fuels) plus all carbon emissions from deforestation, agriculture and other activities is completely removed from the atmosphere by natural or manmade “Carbon Sinks”.

Achieving Net Zero is Far-fetched

Despite the recent feel-good stories about net zero pledges, carbon capture and storage and green hydrogen the reality is humanity is very far from net zero emissions. As it stands, human activity releases approximately 9.4 gigatons of Carbon per year (GtC/year) into the atmosphere, the ocean (the largest carbon sink) absorbs 2.5 GtC/year land uptake which includes vegetation accounts for approximately 1.8 GtC/year.

Humanity is currently adding an excess 5.1 GtC/year into the atmosphere, in order for us to reach net zero we will have to remove more than half our current emissions on a yearly basis.

This leads back to our thesis and ultimately our claim we will create a virtual forest the size of the Sunderbands National Park. To put that in context this corresponds to 1332 Km2of forest cover or 33 million fully grown trees (older than 20 years).

I would like to pause here to admit that we are clearly making broad approximations, we don’t actually have any way of knowing the exact number of trees in the Sunderbands but our logic is based on scientific best estimates.

A fully grown tree (older than 20 years) sequesters approximately 22 Kgs of CO2 a year so hundred trees sequester 1.8 tons of CO2/year a million trees 2.2 kilo tons of C02/year and our target 33 million trees sequester 6.16 mega tons of CO2/year.

Carbon, energy and money have become interchangeable. So, we may assume preventing emissions from entering the atmosphere has the same net effect as removing emissions from the atmosphere (in reality, emission prevented have a considerably more positive impact than emission sequestered)

A Watt saved = CO2 avoided = Rupees saved

The existing installed base of home appliances with motors like fans, AC’s, refrigerators, washing machines, water pumps are responsible for 65% of Indian residential energy demand. This demand will rise in step with increasing technology penetration and rising temperatures.

It is our ambition to help mitigate 6.16 mega tons of CO2/year and help enable annual residential energy savings of approximately 52.5 Billion INR in 5 years. Through the installation of motor control retrofits on the existing connected base of motor run appliances. This will have a mitigation impact equal to carbon sequestration by 33 million trees or a “Virtual Forest” as big as the Sunderbans National Park.

We at Virtual Forest are technology leaders in motor control solutions and support the Indian appliance ecosystem through the supply of electronics for inverter AC’s, BLDC ceiling fans, fluid movement pump controllers and inverter washing machines.

We are addressing energy inefficient motor applications like fixed speed air conditioners and residential fluid movement pumps through the installation of motor control electronics. These retrofits present a low carbon pathway with a demonstrated ROI, that have the potential to deliver real world energy savings of up to 40%. We are addressing energy inefficient motor applications like fixed speed air conditioners and residential fluid movement pumps through the installation of motor control electronics.These retrofits present a low carbon pathway with a demonstrated ROI, that have the potential to deliver real world energy savings of up to 40%.

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