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An Overview on Solar City Program by Govt.

of India
Debasish Choudhury
Dy. Manager, Assam State Electricity Board
(Published in SOUVENIR issued in the occasion of ONE DAY NATIONAL SEMINAR ON
"Solar Energy Utilization-Opportunities and challenges in NER"
4th April -2015)
Various reports on Earth’s climate reveal that Greenhouse Gas emissions are increasing rapidly
due to human activities, thereby having an adverse impact on Earth’s climate. Natural calamities
have been on the rise in the last couple of decades with threat of global warming looming large.
Predictive climate models indicate that in the coming century, we will live in a progressively
warmer, wetter world, with raised sea levels and extreme weather events. Concentration of
carbon dioxide increased at their fastest rate due to constant burning of fossil fuel contributing to
global warming. Currently the world is seeing a huge surge in energy demand due to population
and economic growth coupled with urbanization. Since majority of the electricity is generated by
burning fossil fuel, greenhouse gas emission problem is getting worse. Due to this, there is now
an increased need to look for alternative energy sources and new technology for electricity
generation. That’s where solar, biomass, geothermal, wind power generation is gaining traction
as alternative energy sources. Other benefit of these energy sources are their availability in
abundance compared to fossil fuel. Generating energy from these alternate sources compared to
fossil fuel will be cheaper with the aid of newer technologies. In order to achieve a rapid
transformation from fossil fuel to renewable energy powered built environments, the concept of
solar city has been developed. Solar cities will help in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and
fossil fuel dependency through the introduction of Renewable Energy Systems. In a Solar City
all types of renewable energy based projects like solar, wind, biomass, small hydro, waste to
energy etc. may be installed along with possible energy efficiency measures depending on the
need and resource availability in the city. Developed countries have already taken a huge leap
forward in developing these solar cities with countries like USA leading the pack. As per U.S.
Department of Energy, 25 cities have been identified to be promoted as Solar America Cities.
India is also seeing a huge growth in energy consumption. Despite impressive growth in the
generation capacity since independence, India has always experienced shortage in terms of peak
capacity requirement as well as energy. Most of the Indian cities are unable to cope up with the
ever rising energy demand with around half of our population having no access to it. In view of
this, Government of India started creating plans of identifying / creating solar cities in India as
part of its 5 year planning commission (2012).The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy,
Govt. of India has already started various initiatives for promoting these projects (like solar
water heating systems in homes, hotels, hostels, hospitals and industry; deployment of Solar
Photovoltaic (SPV) systems/devices in urban areas; design of Solar Buildings etc.). As part of
this initiative, 60 cities have been initially identified to be developed as solar cities with below
 To enable/empower urban local governments to address energy challenges at a city-level;
 To provide a framework and support to prepare a Master Plan including assessment of
current energy situation, future demand and action plans;
 To build capacity at the urban local bodies and create awareness among all sections of
civil society;

 To involve various stakeholders in the planning process; and
 To oversee the implementation of sustainable energy projects through public-private
Selection of cities to develop as Solar City:
Various factors are considered while identifying a city to be converted as a solar city. As per
MNRE: “The city is identified based on city population, potential and commitment for adoption
of renewable energy and energy conservation in the city activities, initiatives already taken by
City Council/ Administration/ Private Developers/Industry/General Public in promoting
renewable energy and energy conservation, regulatory measures taken on deployment of
renewable energy technologies and their willingness to provide resources and sustenance of
activities initiated under the program. The cities may have population between 0.50 lakh to 50
lakh, however, relaxation could be considered for special category States including NorthEastern States and hilly States, Islands and Union Territories.”
Once identified to be converted as a solar city, a master plan is chalked out for the city and
implementation is monitored as per the plan. Creation and implementation of the master plan is
of extreme importance while developing a solar city. As part of master plan preparation,
following is gauged:
a) Total and sector wise baseline data of existing supply-demand
b) Associated greenhouse gas emission level for the city
c) Sector wise projection of supply demand for next 5 and 10 years
d) Reduction in greenhouse gas emission level (generally 10%)
Next step is to carry out an assessment on various renewable energy sources and energy
efficiency options across sectors and draw a priority list. As part of renewable energy source
assessment, solar radiation, wind power density and availability, biomass resources and
municipal/industrial wastes for the city are assessed. After this, Energy Efficiency (EE) and
Demand Side Management (DSM) measures are brought in to reduce energy demand further. For
e.g. in Municipal water pumping systems a potential of 15-25% energy can be saved and energy
savings are also possible with efficient lighting and control systems. In Commercial and
institutional buildings, these savings can be done by using efficient lighting and control systems,
thermal storage for peak demand reduction, by following the Energy Conservation Building
Codes (ECBC), by using BEE star rated appliances in residential sectors and energy efficient
motors, furnaces, boilers, etc. in industrial sector. Based on this, a five-year action plan will be
devised to achieve set goals and expected GHG emission reduction.
As part of implementation, following will be done:
1) Establishment of solar city cell within the city council to provide support for project
planning and implementation
2) Solar City Stakeholders Committee for advisory support
3) Capacity building and awareness generation along within indicative financial outlay for
implementation of the proposed five-year action plan
4) Potential sources of funding from respective sources
Cities under NE Region identified for developing as Solar Cities:
Renewable Energy technologies have an important role to play in the economic and social
development of NE Region of India. The per capita power consumption is continuously

increasing significantly in all the NE states. This shows a growing need of power consumption in
this region, which further generates the scope for RE sources in this region. Along with other
states of India, the activities and encouraging policies of the MNRE are popularizing RE
technologies in NE states and the following cities proposed to be supported for development as
Solar Cities in the northeastern region by the MNRE.
Sr. No State
Cities for which in-principle approval given
Guwahati , Jorhat
Arunachal Pradesh
Kohima, Dimapur
Current Status of Solar City Project:
As per current status obtained from MNRE website as of 15/01/2015, sanctions have been issued
for all the cities under NE Region and along with master plans being prepared for all these cities.
Detailed project reports for installation of renewable energy projects/systems have been received
from Kohima, Agartala, Aizawl, Jorhat, Itanagar cities only. Among all NE cities identified so
far, Agartala, and Aizawl are being developed as Pilot Solar City.
SPV/ SWH Projects Sanctioned under Model/Pilot Solar Cities:
Sr. No
Solar City RE Project
SPV Plant at City Centre Building, Agartala
Installation of two Solar PV Power Plants
Solar Photovoltaic Power Plant
90 kW
Solar Water Heating System
364 Sq.M (18200 lpd)
Solar Water Heating System
908 Sq.M (45400 lpd)
Work has started on building solar cities across the nation. A lot of actions yet to be taken up to
keep pace with the development of other developed nations. Within North Eastern Region, usage
of renewable energy is in primitive stage and there is a strong need of developing renewable
energy supply system considering the current state. New technologies provide tremendous scope
on implementation of solar projects such as installation of water heater system, solar cooker,
home lighting system, roof top solar plants, solar street lights etc. The various facilities within
the North Eastern region give ample opportunities for implementation of solar projects. Recently
steps have been taken by Govt. of Tripura by installing a 50 KW solar power plant at Agartala
Municipal Council Head Office with plans of solar hot water system being installed in all hotels,
nursing homes etc. There are plans of using solar energy to light up city’s street lights as well.
To conclude, solar cities program launched by MNRE has the potential to drastically reduce
greenhouse gas emission along with reduced conventional energy consumption. With public
private partnership investment mode and Government’s push for reforms we are poised for an
exciting growth journey in creation of solar cities.
Central Electricity Authority, Govt. of India,
The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, Govt. of India,