India should have 60 solar-powered cities by 2020, US official

Wednesday, September 9, 2009, 5:31 by Business Editor

The United States Department of Energy and the All-India Institute of Local Self Government (AIILSG) has launched a joint training program on ‘Energy-efficient and green cities,’ in Goa.   The program is aimed at training experts, local self governments, universities and civic bodies in making Indian cities to switch from use of conventional energy to solar-powered energy.

Mark Ginberg, senior official with the United States Department of Energy, who attended the launch of the project, said that a total of 60 cities in India should have to be solar-powered by 2020 if the country is able to generate 20,000 megawatts of solar energy by that time.

In all, 20 cities in India have already been lined up for the solar-energy programme and these cities will partner with cities in the United States to achieve the goal, Mark Ginberg said.

Ginberg is also senior executive adviser to the assistant secretary of the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy in the United States Department of Energy.

Initially, the following cities in India and the United States, respectively, have been tied up in the programme: Bangalore with San Francisco; Chennai with Denver; Ahmedabad with Atlanta and Columbus; Mumbai with Los Angeles; Delhi with Chicago; Vadodara (Baroda) with Edison and New Jersey; and Surat with Philadelphia.

This partnership will enable institutions in India like schools to study energy-smart schools in the United States and, if needed, implement in India the activities going on there, according to Vatsal Bhatt, coordinator of the United States-India-China city partnership for sharing best practices in energy and environment.

For instance, Mumbai port can get on-field experience as to how the Los Angeles port has adopted energy-smart steps, Bhatt, who is an energy analyst at Brookhaven National Laboratory, said.

Mark Ginberg said that the United States government, which has realised the importance of renewable energy, is spending billions of dollars for renewable-energy projects in that country. The Barack Obama administration has set apart as much as $60 billion for projects connected with renewable energy and energy efficiency.

Bharatsinh Solanki, Union minister of state for power, said India could make use of its rooftops of houses as well as open fields to harness solar energy and also for water harvesting.

Solanki said Delhi is considering setting up an energy efficiency board. Though nuclear energy is the answer to the power needs of the future, India has financial constraints on this score, he added.

The launch of the joint training program on ‘Energy-efficient and green cities’ held in Goa was attended by mayors and civic officials from 30 cities in India and abroad.

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