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Delhi Power Crisis: Here’s A Sustainable Strategy

By Apoorv Tiwary:

With 350 days of sunshine a year, Delhi promises immense potential for producing solar energy using PV rooftop installations but nothing seems to have been done so far or if anything has been done, it really falls short of the target. Delhi failed to achieve its Renewable Purchase Obligation (RPO) target of 2% last year. The power demand this summer is likely to cross 6000 MW while the city struggles with acute power deficit, pollution from coal based thermal power plants and soaring power tariff. BJP has warned of a huge protest if DERC hikes the rates which will only deteriorate the situation. Several other political parties have staged protests against rising tariff in the capital as well.

Hence, it is high time that we step in and ask Sheila Dixit to implement a policy that enables us to use renewable energy in Delhi. Raise your voice at


Delhi’s 3 power stations: Rajghat, Indraprastha and Badarpur, burn fossil fuels to meet the power demands of the Capital. Rajghat alone dumps 5.5 tonnes of arsenic in Yamuna every year. Delhi Government has no options but to keep Rajghat power plant, a Coalbased power plant, operational as no alternative arrangement for power has been made in the capital. It is responsible for adding tonnes of toxic emissions into Delhi’s air and the Cabinet had issued directions to close it down in 2011. It was shut down during 2010 Commonwealth Games as well to improve air quality.Their impact is so prominent that one can clearly spot them spewing toxic fumes in these Google satellite imagery.

Rajghat Thermal Power Station
Rajghat Thermal Power Station
Badarpur Thermal Power Station
Badarpur Thermal Power Station

Look South
The south Indian states of Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu have shown some guiding light. Both these states have announced ambitious targets for PV installations as a means to solve the power crisis situation that exists in these states. The power deficit in the southern grid in India has gone up from 3% in 2011, to 16% in January 2013. Solar power is the only option for these states to get quick access to power. Kerala too has published a draft solar policy on February 27. This makes it the ninth Indian state to release a solar specific policy document. Under the draft policy, Kerala has set itself a target of an installed capacity of 500 MW by 2017, and 1,500 MW by 2030. Late last year, Kerala initiated a 10,000 rooftop solar power program. Following that, the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu announced that a subsidy of Rs. 20,000/kW will be provided to 10,000 applicants in addition to the 30% subsidy for PV systems from MNRE. The north Indian states of Uttar Pradesh and Punjab have also initiated processes for the allocation of 200 MW and 300 MW of PV projects, respectively.

Total installed PV capacity in India.

Shame the laggards
Until now, policy makers have only focused on large scale projects. But the new policies are encouraging distributed rooftop power generation. Another trend that has emerged from Kerala and Tamil Nadu is that of transferring the renewable energy purchase obligation from power distribution companies to large power consuming industries and setups. Greenpeace report titled “Powering Ahead with Renewables: Leaders and Laggards” looks at Renewable Purchase Obligation (RPO) targets of all Indian states and their achievements. RPO targets decide how much electricity produced in the country should come from renewable sources and hence is a good judge of the improvements being made in clean energy. Sadly, only seven states out of 29 showed a commitment towards building a greener country. And the capital offender has been Delhi.

The central government wanted to generate 7% electricity from renewables but gave state governments the freedom to decide the figure. Result: the national target was downsized to 5.44%. The national capital, despite having a good potential for solar energy, set a meager target of producing only 2% electricity from renewable energy sources. The actual achievement was even more shocking. It managed to produce only 0.01%, a deficit of 1.99%. Tamil Nadu, on the other hand, set a 9% target and achieved 19.14%.

Leader and laggard states as per their renewable energy obligations


International Photovoltaic (PV) Demand
On an international perspective, for the first time, China will outpace Germany to become the leading PV consumer this year. Due to further reductions in European premium incentives, demand in this region will fall. In contrast, new policies across leading PV countries in the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region, led by China, Japan, and India, will stimulate growth of over 50 percent and account for more than 11 GW of PV demand in 2013.

India installed 240 MW of grid connected PV capacity during March 2013, according to Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE). This is almost as much as Germany, which installed 290 MW of PV during March 2013. India also installed 16.9 MW of offgrid PV during the month, which brings India to 1.69 GW of total ongrid and 125 MW of offgrid PV.


Way forward
A few projects that show the way forward:

Solar park at Charanka Village, Gujarat
Gujarat houses one of the biggest solar park in the world. Sprawled over 3,000 acres of wasteland bordering the Rann of Kutch, it produces 276 MW. Inaugurated last year, the park can produce 600 MW. The park is estimated to save eight million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions every year as well as nine lakh tonnes of coal and natural gas annually.

Gujarat Solar Park, Charanka Village

Thyagaraj Stadium in Delhi
The solar power plant at the Thyagaraj is one of the largest single rooftop power plant in the country. Spread over 10,521 sq metres, the plant has been designed to produce 1MW of solar energy. It has more than 5,500 solar photovoltaic panels, which are likely to last for around 25 years and is designed to light up more than 1,000 homes.


Technological Innovations
Researchers at IBM Research,Airlight Energy, ETH Zurich, and Interstate University of Applied Sciences Buchs NTB are developing a costcompetitive photovoltaic system that is able to concentrate sunlight 2000 times and then capture 80% of the concentrated energy, after winning a three year $2.4 million grant from the Swiss Commission for Technology and Innovation.

In addition to generating electricity, the system can itself desalinate water and provide air conditioning, useful features for the sunny and remote regions that the system is designed for. The Design is based on a low cost, large dish-like concentrator and microchannel cooled high performance photovoltaic chips suitable for massproduction.

Events to lookout for
RENERGY 2013 is a bid to attain Chief minister J Jayalalithaa’s vision of developing Tamil Nadu as a world leader in solar energy.


With little support from the government, Delhi too can be a lead runner in renewable energy investment and be done with the crisis. Ask Chief Minister Sheila Dixit to set the policies straight and Switch on the Sun at

You must be to comment.
  1. Aashish

    Hi Apoorv,

    It was a good write up, this made me think about, here i have 1 suggestion to you along with the problem we also should look towards solution we can not wait for government to make policies, we should take initiatives as individual. Here please guide me how i can install these PV’s at my rooftop, from where i can purchase these, subsidies govt providing, or any other RE mode we can adopt at individual level.

  2. Apoorv Tiwary

    Watch Brikesh from Greenpeace India in this video as he talks about rooftop solar installations to a community in Delhi. I guess you will find your answers. 🙂

  3. Felipa

    Have you ever considered writing an e-book or guest authoring on other websites?
    I have a blog based upon on the same subjects
    you discuss and would love to have you share some stories/information. I know my readers
    would enjoy your work. If you are even remotely interested, feel
    free to shoot me an e mail.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

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