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Govt Planning to Convert 60 Cities into Solar Townships

Apr 21, 2008 -Times of India -

Taking a cue from European and American cities, the government is aiming to convert 60 cities into solar townships that run partially on renewable energy sources.

Under the 11th Five Year Plan, the ministry for new and renewable energy has been tasked with identifying 60 such cities with populations ranging from 5 lakh to 50 lakh that will draw up an energy master plan for their future growth and show how they shall either cut power consumption by at least 10% or shift as much as possible to renewable energy sources.

While the government's focus till now has been to use renewables in remote villages that are not connected to the power grid, this is its first venture for cities, which it also hopes will generate an "image makeover" for renewables.

"Over the years, renewable energy has been looked upon as a downmarket and less reliable option for the villages. But just as Europe and America are shifting cities which consume high energy to renewable sources, we too want to do that," a senior ministry official said.

The demand in some cities is seen to be rising by more than 15% annually and this plan hopes to capture the growing cities at the right time and push them towards some level of self-sufficiency in power needs.

Under the scheme, the ministry will provide a soft grant to municipalities of the chosen cities to draw up a master plan looking at current use of power and projected growth over 10 years.

While the scheme is meant for cities with population ranging from 5-50 lakh, relaxation could be made for special regions like north- eastern states. The ministry, besides providing funds, will also help with technical support to these municipalities to see where they can cut power consumption and move towards more benign renewable forms of energy.

The seed money of up to Rs 1 crore that the ministry will provide for planning will be supplemented by larger funding available from sources like the Planning Commission for the JNNURM programme or the Bureau of Energy Efficiency's (BEE) various schemes or the ministry itself for actual implementation.

Also, a green venture fund is in the pipeline and this will allow BEE to help the municipalities take city-wide action, like changing street lights and reworking existing buildings to more efficient designs in order to reduce power consumption.

"Municipalities, besides funding, also face a problem in finding the right technical support for such ventures. The government shall not only provide the grants but hand-hold them through private participants or directly in first devising their plans under this scheme and then provide them further funds and expertise to implement the plan," the official said.

The 60 selected cities could also get the early bird advantage of earning carbon credits for shifting energy sources for street lights for which BEE is also working out a model plan.


Updated: 2016/06/30

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