With an aim to develop solar cities in all the states across India, the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) has initiated a programme to encourage local bodies in urban areas. The programme seeks these local bodies to prepare a road map that will help the cities be renewable energy cities or solar cities.
The Solar programme is expected to consolidate the efforts of MNRE while addressing the energy demand-supply gap in the urban areas. The ministry also promotes usage of solar water heating systems in homes, hospitals, hostels, hotels and industry besides installing solar photovoltaic (SPV) systems in urban areas for demonstration and creates awareness. Setting up ‘Akshya Urja Shops’, designing solar-powered buildings along with promotion of urban and industrial biomass to energy projects are also a part of the programme.
All variants of renewable energy generation plants such as solar, wind, biomass, small hydro and waste to energy will be installed in the cities so as to employ an energy efficient means to meet the requirements of the city. The programme aims at minimum 10 per cent reduction in projected demand of conventional energy and motivates the local governments to encourage and adopt renewable energy technologies and energy efficiency measures, The Times of India newspaper reported.
The cities suitable for the programme implementation will be identified on the basis of population (50,000 – 50 lakh), renewable energy resources and energy conservation potential along with initiatives taken by local governments, common people and industry in the field. However, certain exemptions can be granted to north-eastern states and hilly states, island areas and union territories. A total of 60 cities and towns in India have been identified for being developed as Solar Cities during the 11th Plan period. At least one city to a maximum of five cities in a state may be supported by the Ministry as for the purpose.
The local governments would make a master plan and provide institutional arrangements. The master plan of the solar city will include the base-line for energy consumption during 2008, demand forecast for the years 2013 and 2018, sector wise strategies and action plan for implementation of renewable energy projects to mitigate the fossil fuel consumption in the city.
Awareness campaigns in the city to propagate the initiative would be included in the scheme. Local bodies in the city will receive financial assistance up to Rs. 50 Lakhs per city or town based on the population and initiatives to be taken by the administration.