A solar PV system is seen powering a school run by the Thane Municipal Corporation, at Vartak Nagar area of the city

Thane shows the way through municipal schools and street lighting programmes

The Thane city, located in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region in western India, is best known for its ambitious commitments and actions to promote renewable energy and energy efficiency. The Thane Municipal Corporation (TMC) joined the Urban-LEDS programme in 2012 to accelerate its progressive climate action trajectory.
Guided by ICLEI’s Green Climate Cities (GCC) process, Thane embraced its role as a model city under the programme by adopting a strategic and inclusive approach to identify a set of low emission strategies and undertake a range of local actions. As a model city, it also shared its experiences to inspire other satellite cities.
A well-defined and sufficiently empowered “Core Climate Team” was established within TMC, with representation from various departments, with the Additional Commissioner as its Chairman. A stakeholder committee was also formed including representatives from various external organisations. Being the Chairman of the Committee, Thane’s Honourable Mayor Mr. Sanjay More actively participated in the project.

The Municipal Commissioner led the process of action planning and prioritization and facilitated implementation of low emission development interventions, as Co-Chairman of the Committee. Continuous engagement of internal and external stakeholders along with leadership from TMC has ensured clear understanding of roles, fostered collective ownership and active participation, ensured that local priorities are identified and addressed, and enabled coordinated planning and action.

TMC prepared its city level energy and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions inventory for the years 2009-10 to 2012-13. Priority areas and possible low emission interventions were subsequently identified through discussions held with the Core Climate team and key stakeholders. The pilot projects implemented include:

•Developing a tender document for replacement of 12,000 conventional street lights with energy efficient light emitting diode (LED) street lights by engaging the services of an energy services company (ESCO). This large scale LED streetlight retrofit will potentially reduce energy use by 60 percent, saving 4.5 million units of electricity per year and reducing GHG emission by over 3,700 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) annually.

•In total, 522 energy efficient LED lights have been installed in five slum areas to get better illumination, improved safety and lower energy consumption. This intervention has helped reduce energy consumption by 66 percent, potentially saving 300,000 units of electricity and reducing GHG emission by 246 tonnes of CO2e annually.

•Low emission measures in a first of its kind “net zero energy municipal school” in Thane, which include a) energy efficiency retrofits; b) 15 kW grid interactive Solar PV system, with potential for net-metering and c) other low emission measures such as smart metering, rain water harvesting and solid waste management interventions which would reduce the quantum of waste disposed from the school. The school’s energy consumption has been reduced by 73 percent, potentially saving about 17,200 units of electricity and reducing GHG emission by 14 tonnes of CO2e every year.

•Climate change awareness programmes were conducted in 12 schools to drive students towards low carbon lifestyles.Petroleum Conservation Research Association (PCRA) was invited to train 100 municipal transport bus drivers in good operational/driving practices to enhance fuel efficiency of buses. Assessments indicate fuel efficiency improvements of nearly 13 percent after the training as compared to that prior to the training.

A low emission development strategy has been drafted by addressing local priorities and an approval is being sought from the City Legislative Council. The city’s proposal for the Smart Cities Mission includes the provisions of the low emission development strategy. The Urban-LEDS project has also helped develop a strategic long term outlook within the TMC, which when combined with TMC’s sound technical capacity is expected to enable TMC to effectively develop and implement innovative projects while leveraging finance from various sources. The TMC plans to utilize its Backward Class Development Funds to install 2,000 LED street lights in other slums areas, based on the experiences gained during the pilot project implementation. For its large scale street light retrofit project, TMC has adopted the Energy Service Company (ESCO) based shared savings model developed in the context of Thane’s street lighting infrastructure to avoid making any upfront investments and instead leverage private finance.

The programme has helped trigger an ongoing process within TMC which involves identifying and trialing initiatives at a pilot scale and monitoring results to enable upscaling of projects to have greater, more wide-spread impacts. Implementation and monitoring of the LED street lights retrofitted on a smaller scale in the slum areas helped demonstrate actual energy savings of 66 percent (about 25,100 units of electricity per month) and show improvement in illumination levels from 20 lux to 35 lux. TMC could draw on from these experiences for the larger scale retrofit project for 12,000 street lights. For the ESCO project, GPS-based streetlight fixture/assets inventory mapping was undertaken and detailed energy audit was conducted in order to have an accurate pre-implementation stage baseline and to establish a robust methodology for performance assessment and verification of energy savings.

In its Smart City proposal, TMC outlined a vision to increase the share of renewable energy in municipal services and buildings. TMC intends to replicate the Net Zero Energy Buildings concept across its municipal schools. Plans are underway to install net-metering based solar PV systems of 10 MW capacity and to explore other renewable sources in the form of tidal power and micro hydel power. TMC is also looking to procure 100 electric buses to promote low carbon mobility. 

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