India: Advancing solar energy in cities

Solar panels, buildings in background

Rooftop of DMRC Metro Station Dwarka Sector 21. Photo: DMRC

Today about half of the planet's population lives in cities. This trend is rising since by 2030 it will be some 60 per cent. Conurbations both in the emerging economies and developing nations expect an increase up to 75%. In India, with the world's second largest population, 86 per cent will be living in cities. This development has not only social and economic implications but also an impact on the global climate. According to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) already today cities are responsible for between 60 and 80 per cent of worldwide greenhouse gas emissions. That is above all the result of energy services such as illumination, heating and cooling, electronic appliance use as well as traffic and mobility. That is why sustainable energy supply, based upon the combination of renewable energy resources with energy-saving measures and energy efficiency, is central to an effective reduction of greenhouse gases and mitigation of climate change.

Here is where the project "Commercialisation of Solar Energy in Urban and Industrial Areas" (ComSolar) - promoted by the German Federal Environment Ministry (BMUB) through the Internationale Klimaschutzinitiative (IKI) begins. The project is implemented by the GIZ (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit) and is part of the Indian-German Energy Programme (IGEN). It supports innovative business models to market solar energy in urban and industrial areas and is focussed especially on technology transfer, information campaigns and educational programmes for local partners. Two renowned partners, Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) and Karnataka State Cricket Association (KSCA) have been recruited for the implementation of solar energy pilot projects. In August 2014, an initial pilot PV roof-mounted plant on the DMRC buildings, with 500kW output, was dedicated with the participation of the minister for urban development and energy in the Modi cabinet.

Beyond that the Indian government has announced the expansion target for PV plant for the Delhi Metro to 20MW by 2017. Currently some 2,800kWp solar plants have been installed and additional supply agreements for 7MW of solar electricity have been signed. DMRC also plans to raise its own solar production target to 50MW as well as to purchase 500MW of solar energy through a long-term electricity purchase agreement to cover its own needs. With the installation of a 400kW photovoltaic plant, comprising 1,400 modules, mounted on the roof of Bangalore's Chinnaswamy Stadium in April 2015, KSCA showed that environmental awareness and efficiency can be harmonised very well. Meanwhile KSCA plans to use the stadium's rooftop solar potential completely and increase the total plant output to 1.3MW. Once fully implemented, both demonstration projects in Delhi and Bangalore will reduce greenhouse gases by 25,000 tonnes of CO2eq annually. Moreover additional stadiums are to be equipped with solar electricity. Government representatives contemplate a countrywide transfer of the success model to other cities. This could be implemented by the Solar Energy Cooperation of India (SECI) that is to be advised by the IKI ComSolar project in the future.