Solar power fuels low carbon development
As one of the fast growing cities in India, Thane – also India's 2015 national winner of WWF’s city challenge – has the potential to serve as a role model for other cities. As part of the Mumbai urban agglomeration, Thane has a population of almost 2 million people, with a decadal growth rate of more than 50%, putting pressure on land and natural resources. Since 2006, Thane has mandated installations of solar water heaters in new buildings, and offered 10% tax rebates for installations in existing residential buildings. Thane is also a pilot solar city in India´ Solar City Programme and a model city in ICLEI’s Urban LEDS program.



City Challenge Winner 2015

An array of solar ambitions

In 2000 Thane started to implement renewable energy and energy efficiency measures. The solar water heater ordinance was issued in 2006, and has led to an increase in installations. By 2012, Thane had solar water heaters with a combined capacity of more than 2 million liters per day (LPD), equivalent to approximately 20,000 small panels. In addition, the Thane Municipal Corporation (TMC) installed solar water heaters on hospitals and municipal buildings with a combined capacity of more than 100,000 LPD. Solar water heaters have great potential for energy savings in Thane and other Indian cities with their lower upfront costs.

Thane has also invested in wind-solar hybrid systems and solar PVs for lighting & air-conditioning. It has built a 160 ton solar air conditioning plant and a 15 ton biomethanation plant, as well as solar PVs at municipal buildings. In the pipeline is a larger solar PV project, introducing net-metering, and a larger waste to energy project, that alone would meet the energy saving target of the solar city project.

India´s solar city programme & energy projects

Thane has been designated as one of 15 "pilot solar cities" in India´s Solar City Programme, which includes 60 cities. Thane has drafted a Solar City Master Plan, that has been approved by India´s Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, and which contains a number of renewables and energy efficiency strategies. It gives priority to investments in solar water heaters, because of their great potential for energy savings and low upfront costs. The Indian government assists cities with funding of 50% of the costs for preparing the master plan, and provides a smaller grant to support the rest of a city´s program.

Thane has also completed several energy efficiency projects, including retrofits of municipal buildings, schools and hospitals.

As one of 8 model cities in the program Low Emission Urban Development Strategies in Emerging Economy Countries (UrbanLEDS) 2012-2015, funded by the European Commission, and implemented by UN-Habitat and ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability, Thane has pioneered a low emission development model with the aim of creating good practices for replication globally. In cooperation with ICLEI South Asia, TMC produced a baseline GHG Emission Inventory and Energy Status Report, and launched 5 pilot projects, consisting of:

  • A LED retrofitting project of streetlights with an Energy Service Company,

  • Installation of LED lights in selected slum areas,

  • A Drivers Training Program for Thane Municipal Transport department, improving fuel efficiency by nearly 13%,

  • An Awareness programme on climate change and low carbon practices in schools, and

  • Low emission measures in a municipal school, serving as a laboratory for students and other schools.

Street lighting project

Since street lighting accounts for nearly 40% of TMCs electricity consumption, switching to LEDs is saving both money and carbon. TMC did an energy audit and identified 10,000 out of Thane´s 70,000 streetlights to be replaced. Energy use reduction amounts to 60%, and the project deploys an energy performance contract model, through the involvement of an Energy Service Company that can guarantee savings and help Thane find financing. This makes the project easier to replicate in other cities.

Want to know more about Urban solutions?

Contact Barbara Evaeus
Global Communications Manager,
WWF One Planet City Challenge
+46 70 393 9030





ICLEI, “Thane's journey so far in transition to low emission development”, http://southasia.iclei.org/newsdetails/article/thanes-journey-so-far-in-transition-to-low-emission-development.html Urban LEDS, “About Thane”, http://urbanleds.iclei.org/index.php?id=402

Thane Municipal Corporation, “Thane City Energy & Carbon Emission Report”, http://thanecity.gov.in/uploadpdf/EngeryStatusReprot1345635023.pdf

Thane Municipal Corporation, “Development of Thane Solar City – Final Master Plan”, http://mnre.gov.in/file-manager/UserFiles/Master-Plan-Solar-City/Thane_solar_city_master_plan.pdf

Pote, Sunil, Thane Municipal Corporation, “Promoting Low Carbon Emitting Cities”, http://urbanleds.iclei.org/fileadmin/user_upload/Resources/Networking_event_Nov2013/Thane_TMC_Urban_LED_2013.pdf

Thane Municipal Corporation, “Environment Status Report 2012”, http://www.thanecity.gov.in/uploadpdf/ESR%202012%20English.pdf

carbonn Climate Registry, City Climate Report: City of Thane, http://carbonn.org/data/report/commitments/?tx_datareport_pi1%5Buid%5D=586
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Text by: Martin Jacobson
Last edited: 2017-03-15