The Chandigarh Solar City Project: Identifying Synergies and Maximizing the Co-Benefits of NDC-SDG Linkages in Climate Policy


As part of the Government of India’s (GOI) solar city initiative, “Development of Solar Cities”, the Chan-digarh Solar City Project achieved the targeted 10% reduction of conventional energy demand in its first 5 years of operation through various innovative measures that started a holistic and sustainable transition of the electricity sector in the city. These measures include initiatives and interventions aimed at installing rooftop solar photovoltaics (PV), increasing forest cover, and awareness campaigns on the benefits of solar energy. The project also set its own objective of installing 40 MW solar capa-city between 2009 and 2018 (the summation of the rooftop solar PV (10 MW) and large-scale solar (5MW & 25 MW) targets in the long term, based on energy audits and renewable energy potential assessment), delineated in Chandigarh’s Solar City Master Plan. In June 2018, the target was revised to follow national Renewable Purchase Obligations (RPOs), with an RPO target of 10.5% for the pe-riod 2019-2022 for Chandigarh. This target translates to 69 MW of installed solar capacity by 2022, a jump of 29 MW from the 2018 target.

The project is being implemented by the Department of Science and Technology’s (Chandigarh Administration) organisation, the Chandigarh Renewal Energy and Science & Technology Promotion Society (CREST), after a thorough and robustly consulted design process conducted by The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI). The model targets the residential as well as non-residential sector to promote solar energy. It creates an enabling environment for the sectors to produce green power using grid connected solar PV systems, install solar water heaters (SWH) and use energy efficient appliances for lighting and cooking. Further initiatives are currently being taken up to solarise govern-ment buildings and public facilities.

Moreover, the programme has successfully generated socio-economic co-benefits which can be used to leverage the sustainable development goals (SDGs) as well as the country’s nationally determined contribution (NDC) targets as part of the Paris Agreement. For example, the model enables access to affordable and clean energy, which meets both India’s emission reduction NDC target and SDG 7. This case study identifies these potential co-benefits of the model along with their potential entry points to meet said national climate and development targets.

Chandigarh´s Solar City Project qualifies as a good practice because it is innovative in terms of its approach, technically feasible, it aligns well with the SDGs and it engages with key stakeholders.

Impact of activities
  • REDUCTION IN CO2 EMISSIONS: The activities under the Solar City Project have significantly contributed
    to the emission reductions in Chandigarh, eliminating over 31,000 metric tons of CO2 emissions
    (equivalent to carbon sequestered by 3.4 million trees) as of 1 October 2018 (Figures provided
    by CREST on 1 October 2018. Calculated by CREST based on the installed power capacity.) These
    figures will substantially rise as the coverage of the solar projects in the city increases.
  • SAVINGS ON ELECTRICITY BILLS: According to recent estimates, Chandigarh has successfully installed
    a solar capacity of 23.5 MW (Figures provided by CREST as of October, 2018.) in about 793 sites. This
    has led to a considerable reduction in electricity bills through a three-pronged approach of replacing
    conventional energy with freely available solar energy, using energy efficient measures that reduce
    the quantity of energy used, and enabling the sale of excess power from consumers back to the grid.
    Savings of USD 3.426 million (converted from the figures provided by CREST as of 1 October 2018 (INR
    25 crores). Calculated by CREST based on the installed power capacity. Conversion Rate: 1 USD= 73
    INR.) have been made by consumers on electricity bills until this date.
  • CONSISTENT AND RELIABLE POWER SUPPLY: Chandigarh is prone to experience frequent power
    shortages which is met through short term power purchases and power exchange platforms. The
    introduction of solar energy to the power mix has considerably alleviated the burden on the grid
    via a reduction in peak demand. This has enabled the grid to provide a consistent and reliable
    supply of clean energy.
  • CONTRIBUTING TO NATIONAL RENEWABLE ENERGY TARGETS: This project has also enabled Chandigarh
    to meet its national renewable energy targets. One notable example in that regard is the
    Renewable Purchase Obligation (RPO), a key policy instrument that obligates entities to include a
    proportion of renewable energy into their energy use (Table 1). Further, it also contributes to India’s
    Smart Cities Project, which targets for at least 10% of electricity to be generated from solar power.
  • ACHIEVED MILESTONES: The project has gained considerable recognition and has been one of the
    most successful amongst the range of cities selected for MNRE’s umbrella solar initiative. It has received
    numerous awards, including the National Excellence Award for solar rooftop projects in 2016, the
    National Excellence Award 2016 (awarded to CREST for being the top performing state nodal agency
    for renewable energy), and the second position in the country to achieve the highest capacity addition
    in grid connected solar rooftop power generation in 2014-15. It was also selected to represent India’s solar theme in COP 21.
  • THE CO-BENEFITS OF ACTIVITIES: Although the Master Plan was not prepared with the intention to
    contribute to the SDGs, the (development) co-benefits the programme presents become apparent
    once they are examined more carefully. The model is highly promising in the long term, considering
    the numerous benefits and co-benefits that can be identified. Furthermore, it could potentially contribute
    to meeting directly and indirectly both the NDC and SDG targets. Through this case study, those
    NDC targets and SDGs that could be positively aligned with the activities of the programme were
    identified. It was observed that SDG 11a, SDG 11b, SDG 7 and NDC target 2 are crosscutting in all activities,
    while some activities impact particular NDC targets and SDGs (Table 2).
Institutions involved
  • IMPLEMENTING AGENCY: Chandigarh Renewable Energy and Science & Technology (CREST);
  • FUNDING AGENCY: Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) and Department of Science and Technology (DST), Chandigarh;
  • DISTRIBUTION COMPANY: Chandigarh Electricity Department (CED) is the electricity distribution company (DISCOM) involved which is responsible for monitoring grid-based evacuation for consumers, i.e. the sale of surplus electricity back to the grid.
Source details
  • IKI NDC Support Cluster