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CSE helps Gurugram chart a course to a cleaner, pollution-free, solar future

“Gurugram has a vision – that of being a ‘solar pioneer’, and a modern, truly ‘smart’ city. But it will never be able to realize this vision unless it ensures that its residential sector – its homes – adopt solar power.

Solar rooftop (SRT) could be an excellent non-polluting, cost-effective alternative to replace the smoke-spewing diesel generators currently in use in most residential societies in Gurugram” – said Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) researchers in an assessment of solar potential and SRT in the NCR city.

CSE, in association with the city-based civil action group Gurgaon First, organized a meeting for Gurgaon residents here today to mark the World Environment Day, and chart the course for Gurugram’s solar-powered future. Representatives of Resident’s Welfare Associations, municipal administration and civil society groups attended.

Speaking at the meeting, MoS of the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, and Minister of Planning said “The politicians, administrators, and citizens must work together to develop Gurugram into model solar city” He further added that he would “use the clout from being elected to push for solar energy, in the hopes that it benefits the citizens who elected him”.

Deputy Commissioner of Gurugram Amit Khatri said: “Adoption of solar is already underway. There are a lot of examples within the city to look forward and emulate.

The case for solar rooftop

Gurugram is a city with numerous residential societies and high-rises that promise 24/7 steady power supply – all with diesel generator (DG) support. Their impact on air quality has been severe – these DG sets are choking the city with their noxious fumes. CSE’s assessment of the situation shows levels of PM2.5 and PM10 increase by two and three times, respectively, immediately after a DG set is operated. These levels are several notches higher than the safe limits for residents.

Says Shweta Miriam Koshy, Senior Research Associate-Renewable Energy, CSE: “In the long run, solar rooftop has clear economic advantages and environmental benefits compared to the polluting, expensive DG sets. Though solar by itself does not offer an alternative for DG sets during power cuts, it does minimize the use of the latter for regular, every-day power supply.”

India plans to install 175 gigawatt (GW) of renewable energy capacity by 2022 – 40 of this is expected to come from solar rooftop (SRT). But the picture on the ground is not sunny at all. Till December 2018, the country had managed to install a meagre 1.8 GW of SRT.

Gurugram, till March 2019, and as per estimates from HAREDA, had only 40 MW worth of installed capacity, which is a mere 2% of the city’s peak load.

Speaking at the meeting, Shubhra Puri, founder, Gurgaon First, said: “What better way is there to mark the World Environment Day than this? Gurugram could easily be a solar city with progressive mindset of residents, presence of large buildings and a progressivestate solar policy. Let us work towards making it a 100 MW solar rooftop city by 2022

On the positive side, Gurugram does offer a few examples of successful and encouraging installations of SRT. Wellington Estate RWA in DLF-5 has installed a 350kWp SRT plant, the largest in India. According to the RWA president Vineet Bagga, the plant has helped the complex reduce its annual power bill by Rs 33 lacs.

Participants at the meeting who are producing and consuming SRT-based power, pointed out that the two key bottlenecks were delayed disbursal of subsidies and late installation of bi-directional net meters.

Mandvi Singh, Deputy Programme Manager, renewable energy, CSE “We believe the solar rooftop target for the city can be more aggressive – 15% of total load i.e. 250 MW. But this can be achieved only if the city adopts a dedicated  action plan spearheaded by the city government to build awareness, monitor progress and resolve issues.”

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