Together with United Nations Development Program-GEF Concentrated Solar Heat Project and the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE), ICLEI South Asia organised the ‘Workshop on use of concentrating solar technologies for community cooking and air conditioning application in institutions and religious sectors’ in Coimbatore on 12 June 2013.
India has plenty of success stories on solar concentrator technologies, with the world’s biggest solar cooking system installed in Shirdi, Maharashtra, and designed for cooking food for the devotees visiting the Sri Sai Baba temple. The main bottleneck in the roll-out of such technologies observed so far is the lack of awareness about their benefits. UNDP-GEF in association with MNRE has launched a market development initiative for different Solar Concentrating systems, providing funding for demonstration and replication projects. The workshop aimed to bring together all stakeholders, prospective beneficiaries, MNRE officials, local bodies, manufacturers and consultants.
One of its main outcomes was the decision, by the Coimbatore Corporation, to install a solar concentrator at its North Coimbatore School to tap heat energy to cook noon meal for students. If the experience proves to be successful, the city will extend it to other 15 Corporation higher secondary schools – the Council has already granted its approval for such activity. The decision is part of Coimbatore’s master plan as a Solar City, that the city is developing with the support of ICLEI South Asia.
Mayor S.M. Velusamy stated that, in line with the several measure the State of Tamil Nadu has initiated to tap renewable energy sources, the city of Coimbatore has taken many steps too: three Amma canteens use solar power for lighting and running fans and another three utilise solar power for heating water; solar panels have also been installed on some of the Corporation’s buildings.