Delhi’s 2041 Draft Master Plan Foresees 50 Percent Energy From Renewables

Delhi’s Draft Master Plan (MPD 2041) for the next two decades was formally release for public feedback and attention . The MPD is relevant, simply because it lays the roadmap for the city’s development for the next two decades. Previous masterplans have suffered various amendments and changes, almost all driven by political necessities. Basic necessities, such as water availability and housing have been ignored, despite ground realities that demanded attention. Statehood has changed that somewhat, with an elected government trying hard to elicit responses from the ground too.

Delhi, or the national capital territory of Delhi is the largest city in the country by area, spread across about 1,486.5 sq. km. It comprises 367 villages, most of which are declared urban. There are 11 districts, 33 tehsils/sub-divisions, 272 wards and five local bodies handling civic administration – North DMC, South DMC, East DMC, New Delhi Municipal Council and the Cantonment Board. Delhi is divided into 18 planning zones for ease of planning and management.

The MPD is a ‘strategic’ and ‘enabling’ framework that will guide city planners for the next phase of growth while  building  upon lessons from the previous plans in 1962, 2001 and 2021. The Delhi Development Authority (DDA) is the anchor agency for the master plan.

The coming master plan will matter because the decisions here  might yet decide whether the city is livable or not by 2041. Thus, a high focus on the environment, and pollution, two of the biggest negatives for the city in the last decade.

Thus, we see an emphasis on affordable and rental accommodation and land pooling, and redevelopment of old areas of the city. For the first time, private developers will be allowed to offer housing in land-pooling schemes.

The city’s energy demand, set to break new records this summer,  gets  80% of supplies from polluting coal-fired thermal power plants. The MPD proposes a “Renewable Energy Plan” that identifies potential energy generation areas within the city along with strategies and projects to meet the targets outlined by the Union ministry of new and renewable energy.

The MPD also mandates all agencies to adopt strategies to manage peak load demand. “Promote mixed use, permit select commercial/recreational spaces to function for 24 hours and promote night economy. Set up large public screenings of sporting and other events etc. Examine feasibility of shared heating and cooling systems. Use vacant office buildings/ schools etc., for night parking and EV (electric vehicle) charging. Promote EV battery swapping during peak hours and permit EV charging only during non-peak hours,” it states.

Solar power generation has expectedly, come in for special attention. However, it seems to have overlooked the complete failure of the city to make serious progress vis a vis its solar policy of 2016, calling instead for more of the same and a better incentive structure for using farming land too. The latter has been a virtual non starter, since being announced first in 2018.

“Delhi has a number of canals that can be utilised for harnessing solar energy as per feasibility. The canal owning agencies may leverage this potential for the generation of solar energy. Government buildings and institutional campuses with a rooftop area above 500 sq.m to install solar PVs (photovoltaics) as per Delhi Solar Policy 2016 and Net Metering Regulations, 2014. Large-scale public facilities such as airports, Metro stations, railway stations, interstate and city-level bus stations/depots, stadiums etc., may progressively meet the majority of their power requirements through solar and other renewable energy,” the document said. That’s the easy part, we believe.

What Delhi probably needs is a special push for sourcing renewable energy, ensuring its discoms meet their Renewable Purchase Obligations starting now, and enable pooled buying by market associations and even groups of industrial clusters. In fact, one could argue that there is a strong case to mandate higher RPO’s for large cities across the country, especially those with a population over 10 million people. As dense and relatively affluent consumption centres, India’s largest cities offer the best opportunity for higher renewable share, balanced with large storage batteries where required. That will drive renewable adoption as well as help achieve numbers.

High renewable energy shares in cities will also drive a greener EV transition. And we are not even getting into the possibilities of using a large EV fleet in the city as a power source, a possibility that will be in use in some cities across the world by 2025.

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Prasanna Singh

Prasanna Singh

Prasanna has been a media professional for over 20 years. He is the Group Editor of Saur Energy International

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