The Coimbatore Corporation is moving towards the status of a Solar City, which is aimed at reducing the conventional energy consumption by a minimum of 10 per cent at the end of five years, through a combination of enhanced supply from renewable energy sources and energy efficiency measures. The initiative will get funding from the Centre.
The project planning and implementation is being closely monitored by Mayor S.M. Velusamy and Corporation Commissioner T.K. Ponnusamy. A total of 60 cities and towns are selected for the “Solar City” initiative and Coimbatore is the only city from Tamil Nadu. Cities with up to 50 lakh population are chosen for this project. Relaxation on the population criterion has been done for the thinly populated North Eastern and hilly States.
A master plan for the Solar City initiative is in the final stages. It has as baseline the energy consumption during 2008 and forecasts the energy demand in 2013 and 2018. The plan will have sector-wise action plan for implementation of renewable energy projects so as to reduce fossil fuel consumption. Areas of energy consumption, avenues for efficiency, tapping renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, biomass, small hydro and power from waste will be the top agenda of the solar city programme, says C. Sellakrishnan, Project coordinator for Solar City.
With the Corporation area having been expanded, the civic body has now taken up 26,520 street lights from the added areas. It already has 37,753 street lights in the earlier city limits. Currently, the civic body's power bill is around Rs 4.2 crore and maintenance is Rs 3 crore. With the expanded city area, the power charges are likely to cross a whopping Rs 10 crore mark. The Corporation is now pushing the renewable energy agenda after the contractor for street lights maintenance could not ensure the projected energy conservation. There are 827 borewells in the corporation area and the energy audit on the 3 MW to 5 MW submersible pumps in the two wards carried out by the International Council for Local Environment. Initiatives had indicated that 25 to 55 per cent improvement was possible in these borewells and the recommendations are under implementation in 18 bore wells.
Coimbatore Corporation has already made a beginning to tap wind power energy and solar energy at its Mettupalayam Road bus stand. Corporation has a 3 kw wind power generator and 0.5 kw solar PV panels. This initiative has helped the Corporation meet the energy needs of 36 of the 72 lights and 15 fans at the Mettupalayam Road bus stand. The Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission office in the Corporation main office building, has a 45 KVA energy saver for reducing 15 per cent of the consumption of power for air-conditioners, computers and lights. Now the Corporation has plans to emulate the same example at Gandhipuram, Ukkadam and Singanallur bus stands to reduce demand on conventional energy.