Making our cities more energy efficient

eid2grey-02Cities are getting a lot of attention globally because of their high energy consumption and their potential to make significant savings.  Dr. Mayarani Praharaj from the Department of Architecture, College of Engineering and Technology, provides a detailed account of some of the issues and the initiatives underway Bhubaneswar for the Daily Pioneer in Delhi and Lucknow.

Focus is on how to make cities energy-efficient

For nearly everything we produce or consume we require energy. All essentials of our life depend on energy input. Cities exert a particularly high demand of energy. A big percentage of this increasing energy demand is covered by fossil fuels, a resource that is becoming scarce and increasing in price and that is a large contributor to global warming. The fossil fuel-depended urbanisation is still expanding all over the world even though the resource of fossil fuel is being fast depleted.

The ‘Sustainable Energy for All’ initiative will catalyse new investments to speed the transformation of the world’s energy systems, pursue the elimination of energy poverty and enhance prosperity. To achieve this, the United Nations has proclaimed 2012 as the International Year of Sustainable Energy for All. The International Year of Sustainable Energy for All has provided an effective platform for raising global awareness of the importance of sustainable energy and its role in alleviating poverty, reducing inequality and promoting sustainable development.

The World Energy Council (WEC) supports the UN’s ‘2012, International Year of Sustainable Energy for All’ initiative. The initiative focuses global attention on the importance of energy for development and its ultimate goal is to achieve three key objectives by 2030 — Ensuring universal access to modern energy services; Doubling the rate of improvement in energy efficiency and Doubling the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix. The global market for renewable energy is growing rapidly. Many pioneers around the world have made their communities (and cities as well) self-sufficient through renewable energy technologies.

A combination of targets, policies and a growing concern for energy security is at the bottom of the transformation from conventional energy to more renewable energy production. India was the first country in the world to set up a Ministry of Non-Conventional Energy Resources in early 1980s. Announced in November 2009, the Government of India proposed to launch the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission under the National Action Plan on Climate Change with plans to generate 1,000 MW of power by 2013 and up to 20,000 MW grid-based solar power, 2,000 MW of off-grid solar power and cover 20 million sq metres with collectors by the end of the final phase of the mission in 2020.

Development of windpower in India began in the 1990s. As of December 2010 the installed capacity of windpower in India was 13,065.37 MW, mainly spread across Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh Madhya Pradesh, Kerala, West Bengal and some other States.

It is estimated that 6,000 MW of additional windpower capacity will be installed in India by 2012-end.  Windpower accounts for 6 per cent of India’s total installed power capacity and it generates 1.6 per cent of the country’s power. Presently, India (15,700 MW) is in 5th position, following China (44,733 MW), the US (40,180 MW), Germany (27,215 MW) and Spain (20,676 MW). Odisha’s first solar power plant with capacity of 1 MW has been commissioned at Sadeipali in Balangir district by Raajratna Energy Holdings, a company based in Hyderabad.

This solar power plant is the third in India. The plant has been set up under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission of Rooftop PV (Photo Voltaic) and Small Solar Power Generation Programme of the Union Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE). India is currently ranked fifth in the world with 15,691.4 MW grid-connected and 367.9 MW off-grid renewable energy-based power capacities. As on March 31, 2012, the installed capacity of renewable energy-based power generation was 24,503 MW, which is about 12 per cent of the total installed capacity of 199,626 MW.

The major renewable energy sources are wind energy, solar energy, biomass and waste energy and small-hydro energy. The solar cities programme is an initiative of the Central Government to develop around 60 solar cities during the 11th Plan period (2007-2012).

The objective of the programme is to empower urban local governments to address energy challenges at the city level. The cities willing to develop a master plan aiming at reducing at least 10 per cent of demand for fossil energy sources (5 per cent from energy efficiency and conservation measures and 5 per cent from renewable energy sources) are recognised as solar cities. The cities demonstrating a high level of political commitment and administrative leadership would be provided funds to prepare a master plan that includes assessment of the current energy situation, future demand and action plans and create awareness among all sections of the civil society. This involves various stakeholders in the planning process.

Solar cities would focus on popularising renewable energy projects/ systems/devices such as solar PV systems including building integrated photovoltaic systems, solar water heating systems, solar cooking systems, solar steam generating/drying/air heating systems, solar air-conditioning, biomass gasification based systems, biogas, wind, etc. India’s first Solar Housing Complex (Rabirashmi Abasan) has been constructed in the New Town area of Kolkata. The project has been executed by the West Bengal Renewable Energy Development Agency (WBREDA) with partial support of Ministry of New and Renewable Energy and State Governments’ agencies.

The housing complex comprises 25 luxurious bungalows, a community hall and a swimming pool developed on a 7125-square meter plot. The complex is a unique model and has been developed on the concept of ‘zero use of conventional electricity’. The site planning has been done with maximum solar and wind access to individual houses; appropriate landscaping to modulate air flows within the site with Solar PV-operated garden lights.

The complex has been provided with 2 KW roof top solar PV with grid connectivity, metering and standalone facility for four hours’ operation. Each bungalow has own a power plant on the rooftop comprising a solar photovoltaic panel with a capacity of 2 kilowatt. Household gadgets and electric installations can run on solar power during the day.

Post sunset, with the generation dwindling, the system automatically switches to grid-supplied electricity. The PV system also has an in-built power backup system, which stores around 3 KW of power. So, in case of an emergency at night, say during power cuts, one can switch to the backup to harness stored power.

An inverter helps the switchover post-sunset. Residents have been advised to opt for light emitting diodes (LEDs) and compact fluorescent lamp (CFL) for lighting. Water efficiency has been done by using pervious paving to maximise groundwater recharge and hydro-pneumatic water supply system with 40 per cent less energy consumption. National Governments make policies pertaining to environmental sustainability and help develop energy-efficient cities.

There are investment and financing implications of sustainable energy planning. National Governments also set standards for use of renewable energy sources. But translating the goals of these policies into action is often in the hands of local and city authorities.

For a city to be sustainable, an integrated approach is needed, along with the necessary planning tools. Sustainable urban development calls for a high level of commitment from the local authorities, a transparent, participatory and inclusive urban management along with integrated energy planning.

Integrated energy planning is an area-based decentralised energy plan to meet the needs for development of alternate sources at the least cost to the economy and the environment. It estimates how much energy all the different consumers (e.g. industry and households) would need in future to deliver certain services; and then identify a mix of appropriate sources and forms of energy to meet these energy service needs in the most efficient and socially-beneficial manner.

At present, sustainable development is no longer an option but a necessity. Achieving sustainable energy for all involves development of systems that support the optimal use of energy resources in an equitable and socially-inclusive manner while minimising environmental impacts.

Integrated national and regional infrastructures for energy supply, efficient transmission and distribution systems and demand programmes that emphasise energy efficiency are necessary for sustainable energy systems in cities.

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