UNDP in partnership with the Tea Board of the Ministry of Commerce, Government of India and the Global Environment Facility initiated a four year project in 2008, aimed at introducing energy conservation measures in small tea processing factories that could help units save between 15 to 30 percent in energy costs.
India is the second largest producer and exporter of tea after China. South India, which houses 265 tea factories, contributes over 45 percent to India’s tea exports.
Tea processing is highly energy-intensive. Energy costs can account for as much as 30 percent of the total processing costs.
Amidst rising losses due to high production costs, Manogaran’s tea cooperative in the Nilgiri Hills in south India faced the threat of closure. An energy audit highlighted opportunities where greater energy efficiency could reduce production costs. Energy saving measures, introduced as part of a UNDP project, enabled the cooperative to turn business around.
A range of energy conservation measures including efficient motors, wood chippers, modified blades helped improve the drying process and save energy significantly.
Briquettes made out of agricultural residue served as an alternate to firewood, contributing to further reduction in production costs.
Replacing firewood with briquettes and other energy-saving measures enabled Manogaran’s cooperative to save its energy bill by 30 percent in a short span of two years.
It is estimated that if the energy conservation measures are adopted by all the 265 tea processing units in south India, there will be an annual savings of 24.6 million kilowatt hours of electricity and 62 million kg of wood. This translates to a reduction of 130,000 tons of carbon dioxide annually.