Solar energy – Sustainability 101 for Indian Smart Cities

Tue, 2015-12-29 11:15 -- SCC India Staff

Indian Airport

Globally energy needs are set to rise 40% by 2030, ushering in pressure on prices, competition for resources, challenges in providing overall access to societies’ poorest citizen.  Add to that the climatic change and impact on economic growth and you have a landmine of hurdles to overcome before reaching a better quality of life.  Cities are where energy flows – oil and gas electricity feed city its life. And hence, cities need to make their energy smarter, more efficient, reliable, resourceful and green.

India’s per capita electricity consumption has touched 1010 kilowatt-hour (kWh) in 2014-15, compared to 957 kWh in 2013-14 and 914.41 kWh in 2012-13, according to the Central Electricity Authority (CEA), India’s apex power sector planning body. India’s per capita power consumption is among the lowest in the world. China has a per capita consumption of 4,000kWh, with developed nations averaging around 15,000kWh per capita. But with the development of Smart Cities over the period of next 10 years, India is all set to enter and capitalise on this ever-increasing trend of electricity need.

To counter this, there are many initiatives up and running at various levels and in various states. These organisations and their indigenous attempts at saving, creating and alternating the energy source provides an idea book of examples in repertoire. Under the Domestic Efficient Lighting Programme, efforts are being made to replace all domestic bulbs by LED, affirms Piyush Goyal, Union Minister of State (IC) for Power, Coal and Renewable Energy. The Solar Roof Top programme introduced by Government of Karnataka is a learning initiative for other states. The central government expects Karnataka to be amongst the top five states  to implement the new and renewable energy programmes, the minister added. India aims to produce 1,75,000 MW and Renewable energy in next 5 years. The government also launched the Solar Mission to generate 1 lakh MW solar power in the country. Similarly the Wind Mission targeted at 75,000 MW power generations. The government is treating this initiative as the nation’s mission. Karnataka is not the only state in its pursuit of ongoing and new and renewable energy projects. As many as 55 cities in 27 states and union territories are currently being developed as solar or green cities, according to the parliament announcement in July *.

Mahabubnagar in Andhra Pradesh, Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala, Indore in Madhya Pradesh, Jaipur in Rajasthan and Leh in Jammu and Kashmir have only got in-principle approval till date. The criteria set by the ministry for the identification of cities include a city having population between 50,000 to 50 lakh (with relaxation given to special category states including the NorthEast states), initiatives and regulatory measures already taken along with a high level of commitment in promoting energy efficiency and renewable energy. The states of Gujarat and Rajasthan are the leaders of solar power projects with 824.09 MW and 500 MW respectively; the two states contribute almost 89% to the total production of solar energy in the whole country. Gujarat and Rajasthan have installed the highest capacity of solar power plants with effective government measures. Of the two, Gujarat has the highest solar power plants with capacity of 824.09 MW. It contributes to almost 55% to the total capacity of power generated in the country. Rajasthan is the second state to have the largest number of solar power plants i.e. with the capacity of 500 MW, which is 34% of the total capacity of power generated in the country.  A total 19 states of India have installed small or large capacity solar power plants. In all, the country generates a total capacity of 1488.355 MW of solar power, through various solar power stations established at different states of the whole country.

Details of all the projects of the country under different schemes:

Projects Capacity (MW)
Projects Under JNNSM 421.9
Projects under the State Policy 824.09
Projects Under RPSSGP/GBI Scheme 91.8
Projects Under REC Scheme 23.905
Other projects 108.65
Total 1498.355

Cochin International airport, the country's first airport built under PPP model has scripted another chapter in aviation history by becoming the first airport in the world that completely operates on solar power. This plant produces 18 million units of power from ' sun ' annually - the power equivalent to feed 10,000 homes for one year. Over the next 25 years, this green power project will avoid carbon dioxide emissions from coal fired power plants by more than 3 lakh metric tons, which is equivalent to planting 3 million trees or not driving 750 miles.

For a smarter energy drive, low energy consumption and lesser energy related emissions, developing alternative sources of energy has become imperative. India being a tropical country is blessed to reap huge benefits of solar energy, if harnessed to its capacity.

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