Towards a Smart Green City

  • Barnali Dutta / FG
  • India
  • May 22, 2015

Development and progress have been the talk of the town in this Millennium City – though that has clearly meant very different things to different ‘stakeholders’. A city of buildings and therefore builders (not developers) would be the more apt terminology. Civic and social infrastructure has been given a miss….or, more accurately, privatised (no need for even PPP here). Ironically, this messy situation is probably why Gurgaon has been chosen as the premier ‘Smart City’ project (or a test bed…take your pick). And the starting point for this smartness has been identified as 24x7 power – this time thankfully the energy type. Power is today seen as core to any development plan. Sans power, life (residential, commercial, industrial or institutional) is indeed powerless (weak and gloomy). Further, today it is not only the generation, transmission and distribution of ‘fossil fuel’ power that is important, but also its conservation….and its gradual replacement by Renewable Energy. So that we can move effectively towards an era of Sustainable Development (now that’s a Vision!). Some islands did sprout. The ITC Green Centre in the City was declared one of the world's greenest buildings in 2012 – getting a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification from USGBC (US Green Building Council) for outstanding commitment to the environment. The good news is that the present day civil society of Gurgaon has decided to up the Renewable tempo, with Nirvana Society taking the lead in partnership with Power Grid Corporation. T L Satyaprakash, DC Gurgaon and a person who will play a key role in the Smart City project, says, “Regarding the Nirvana Rooftop Solar Power project, it is a good initiative and I am acting as a mediator. I want both of them, Nirvana RWA President Sanu Kapil and Subir Sen, from Power Grid Corp., and their teams to succeed, so that they mutually benefit, as does the City.” Sanu Kapila observes, “The purpose for our taking this step is to help make society eco-friendly and technically smart. It will also help decrease the pressure on the government agencies, be they HSEB or the Municipal Corporation. The new concept that has been introduced is Net Metering, by which any ‘surplus’ solar power generated by us would be given to the power grid and we would get credit for it (in our next billing). ‘Smart’ power network connectivity also means that we can flexibly plan the utilisation of our power load(s) – for example, when to run the water pump and other ‘heavy’ utilities" Power Grid has consented to provide consultancy and supervisory services for the implementation of the project – including solar power generation, integration with the grid, security systems and energy efficiency solutions, on a cost plus basis. 

Gurgaonites in general are enthusiastic on Solar. Ms. Rupali, resident of Malibu Towne, says, “It’s a wonderful initiative and we should also use the same to save electricity. It is both environmentally friendly and cost effective. Unfortunately, in India we are less open to change…we are happy to just move along with what we have. We must become sensitive to the depletion of natural resources and to the impact of all sorts of pollution on our environment. We must also find solutions to minimise our usage of power.” Prior to ITC’s venture, the S M Sehgal Foundation, an NGO, had constructed an environment friendly building in Sector 44. The Chairman, Suri Sehgal, had said that green buildings increase the efficiency with which buildings and their sites use and harvest energy, water and materials, and help reduce the building's impact on human health and environment through better design, construction, operation and maintenance. A solar power generation unit and a rainwater harvesting mechanism for water supply and groundwater recharge, built in accordance with the zero-waste concept, were the highlights of this ‘green’ project. While inaugurating the building, Governor Kidwai had lamented that while solar energy was the future, for both urban and rural  power requirements, it was not being adequately tapped.

While the government of India had proactively instituted a separate Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) and a Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) more than a decade ago, it is only now that the momentum is picking up the right speed and scale. BEE’s technicians, engineers and experts have come up with specific guidelines for Lighting, Buildings, Appliances, Agriculture, Municipal and civic services and Industries (including transport). A blueprint on overall energy conservation and efficiency, titled National Mission for Enhanced Energy Efficiency (NMEEE) has also been drafted. Different tools, formulae and mechanisms have been devised under this programme:

PAT -Perform, Achieve and Trade: this is a market-based mechanism for enhancing the cost effectiveness of improvements in energy efficiency in large industries and facilities, through certification on savings.

EEFP -Energy Efficiency Financing Platform: as the name suggests, it is a mechanism to enable the mainstream financing of energy efficiency projects.

FEEED - Framework for Energy Efficiency Economic Development: this is for the development of fiscal instruments to promote energy efficiency

MTEE - Market Transformation for Energy Efficiency: this is to create mass awareness and hasten the shift to energy efficient appliances in designated sectors through innovative measures, as well as to make the products more affordable.

All the above aspects can be made effectively viable with Solar Power as the source. The latest ‘development’ is the setting up of the National Institute of Solar Energy (NISE) at Gual Pahari on the Gurgaon-Faridabad Road. It is an autonomous institution of MNRE and the country’s apex R&D set-up in the field of Solar Energy. Prior to September 2013, for nearly 25 years it was known as the Solar Energy Centre (SEC), facilitating the implementation of the National Solar Mission and coordinating research, technology and other related works. Acting as an interface between the government and institutions, industry and other organisations for the development, promotion and widespread utilisation of solar energy in the country, NISE is today involved in demonstration, standardisation, interactive research, training and testing of solar technologies and systems. It is also managing an accredited Solar PV module-testing laboratory, lighting system test laboratory, battery testing facility and a water pumping system test rig and outdoors test facility. NISE has a fully developed testing facility for small and large sized solar thermal systems and also offers Solar Resource Assessment (SRA). A Solar Electronics Training Centre has just been set up. It has just completed a 1 MW Solar Thermal R&D power project in collaboration with IIT, Mumbai. 

NISE has drawn up a result-oriented plan for Gurgaon. As a start, together with Nirvana Society RWA, it will install Photovoltaic (PV) plates on the roofs of the buildings in the Society, to help tap solar power, and also set up the Net Metering system. NISE has facilities to test and certify PV plates. Further, the Institute is also engaged in research and development on the design, performance and reliability of PV modules. NISE has become a fertile ground for engineering graduates, including M. Techs., since it allows them to undertake detailed studies and experiments for their academic theses, hoping that they will come up with some breakthroughs in systems or applications.


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