Can Delhi become a solar city?

Can Delhi become a solar city?

Solar capacity addition in India has so far been centered on large, grid connected, ground-mounted PV plants. The lack of space for such power plants in a highly urbanized and congested city like Delhi is a challenge for solar energy. But, this is true only if solar deployment is restricted to large, ground mounted power plants. The potential to install rooftop solar PV in a city like Delhi can be tremendous.

  • Delhi’s total land area is 1,483 square kilometers
  • 700 square kilometers of Delhi’s total area is built-up, which could theoretically give a potential of 58 GW of rooftop solar
  • Not every inch of Delhi’s rooftop space is viable for solar, scaling down the potential drastically, but none the less being worth a couple of gigawatts

The potential fundamentally depends on the rooftop space available in Delhi for the use of PV systems. The numbers are staggering! According to the Census 2011, Delhi’s total land area is 1,483 square kilometers. If such an area were unused and exclusively available for solar installations, it could support 123 GW of installed capacity which, at peak power production, would be more than 20 times Delhi’s current annual peak power demand of 5.6 GW and more than half of India’s installed capacity of 215 GW. According to the Delhi Master Plan 2021, 50% or 700 square kilometers of Delhi’s total area is built-up. If the rooftops on this entire built-up area could support solar PV installations, Delhi could theoretically have a potential of 58 GW!

While this number is enormous and very tempting for us solar aficionados, it would not be accurate. Not every inch of Delhi’s rooftop space is viable for solar. Taking in to consideration the structural strength of building, obstructions like water tanks, shafts and other utility space, the shadows of such obstructions, and incomes of the property owners, the viable space for solar gets drastically scaled down. This none the less gives a potential of at least a couple of gigawatts or more of solar. With gigawatt scale potential, Delhi can definitely become a solar city!

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