ICLEI South Asia's efforts to bring District Energy Systems to cities gather pace

In a move that signals significant progress in getting District Energy Systems to cities of India, stakeholder discussions were initiated in Bhopal and Thane to share information on the project and build interest of local real estate developers on district cooling. The meetings are a part of ‘Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency in Buildings & Cities: Assessing Potential for District Energy Systems (DES) in Indian Cities’ project, initiated under UNEP’s District Energy in Cities Initiative and being implemented by ICLEI South Asia.

Presently, rapid assessments are being carried out in five project cities – Rajkot, Thane, Bhopal, Coimbatore and Pune – to understand district cooling potential, benefits and barriers, and identify potential pilot projects.

The city of Thane has shown considerable progress. In the month of August, team members from UNEP, ICLEI South Asia and the Thane Municipal Corporation (TMC) visited potential sites: Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Hospital, Viviana Mall, Korum mall, Jupitor hospital, Lodha IT Park, Hiranandani estate, and Raymond company property to assess the feasibility of district cooling. A stakeholder meeting involving TMC officials; Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) consultants and technical experts; and prominent real estate developers was subsequently conducted in August.

Mr. Sunil Pote, Deputy City Engineer (Electrical), TMC said, “Thane is a suitable city for moving ahead with the district cooling approach due to its hot and humid climate, cooling demand from the commercial and residential sector, able political leadership, the presence of renowned building developers and the city’s past experience in implementing innovative projects.” He added that district cooling was a well-proven technology but Thane needs to look at which suitable business and financial model for district cooling would work for the city.

The real estate developers agreed that it was crucial to bring down energy consumption in buildings. Mr. Sanjiv Walke, Deputy Vice President (Liaison), Lodha Group noted, “Many malls in the city have shut down or are on the verge of shutting down because of the exorbitant expenses on energy use. Energy cost is almost 60 percent of the overall operating expenses and HVAC contributes the maximum. A district cooling system with the right financial model will improve profits and be a win-win situation for everybody.” 

Mr. Sanjeev Jaiswal, Municipal Commissioner, TMC emphasised TMC’s willingness to promote development of district cooling in the city and reiterated that Thane was an ideal city for implementing district cooling systems. “The city has already been sensitized and is more than willing to implement the project. TMC can act as a facilitator to promote district cooling. A conducive environment for district cooling can be created by providing incentives in the property tax, planning for integration of district cooling at the initial stage before commencement of building developments, and holding workshops to sensitize all stakeholders,” he explained.

At the meeting, the real estate developers agreed to provide support and share all the requisite data for the potential sites.

ICLEI South Asia team members, with support from TMC, are presently collecting site related data from the real estate developers to complete the rapid feasibility assessments. Based on the results of the rapid assessments, further detailed assessments for city-wide district cooling feasibility and to develop a demonstration project for district cooling will be undertaken in at least one project city.

Bhopal shows potential

The joint team of ICLEI South Asia and UNEP have made a one day visit to Bhopal city to meet the municipal commissioner and other relevant staff within the municipal corporation to appraise them of the progress that has been achieved so far with regards to the implementation of district energy initiative program in India and in particular in Bhopal.

Bhopal is also one of the five cities that have participated in rapid assessment as part of the district energy initiative programme in India.

Meanwhile, Bhopal – one of the first 20 cities selected by Government of India to be developed as smart cities, is expected to try out and explore new and innovative technologies – including DES – that are feasible and have the potential to transform and upscale service delivery in an efficient manner.

So far, the basic information has been collected for Bhopal pertaining to use of energy, varying loads, load patterns and weather information. All this information has been analysed to assess the cooling load demand, its pattern and key sectors have been identified which drive the energy demand in the city. Apart from this, the team of ICLEI South Asia is also collecting information from selected sites within the city. These sites are:

1. Smart City Area (T.T. Nagar)
2. Extension Secretariat Building of State Government i.e. Bhallabh Bhawan,
3. New construction (owned by State Government) near Rajiv Gandhi Proudyogiki and
4. M.P. Nagar Area

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