Inauguration of Solar Energy Project in Mumbai Slum Housing Project

by James Tayler

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Success stories in accessing affordable, reliable, and safe electricity for the poor are commonly registered from rural areas but what of the urban poor? There is far less real world success in addressing challenges the poor face in cities across the world, limited understanding of how cities will manage the secure supply of clean and affordable electricity for urban informal communities as urbanisation continues, and less precedent for how urban poor residents can play an important role. That being said, organized urban poor communities affiliated with the SDI network are beginning to demonstrate the critical role of the urban poor in practically contributing to clean energy transitions while simultaneously increasing resilience.

On the 28th of November 2017, Mahila Milan and the National Slum Dwellers Federation of India inaugurated a 12kWp rooftop solar PV system on a large-scale government housing complex in Govandi, Mumbai (SRA Building 11C in Natwar Parikh, Indian Oil Compound). SRA is the Slum Rehabilitation Authority, the state level authority administering a government program that provides housing for Mumbai’s poor. The solar PV system installed at building 11C makes use of enabling net-metering policy and a capital subsidy, incentivizing the tapping of Mumbai’s vast rooftop solar potential. Connected to the grid supply the system imports as well as exports electricity allowing the housing cooperative a saving of around Rs. 1.9 lakhs annually (roughly USD 1500).

Communal facilities supplemented by the newly installed solar PV system include: common area lighting, elevators, and crucially the pumping of water from underground tanks to overhead tanks. These energy costs are conventionally borne by levies paid by the building’s residents. A reduction in the cooperative’s overall electricity bill means more money for maintenance. As with other NSDF managed projects, 100% of routine maintenance of the solar system is done by trained Mahila Milan members.

The Indian Ministry of New and Renewable Energy’s Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission aims to position India as a global leader in the production of solar electricity. There’s real momentum in powering the country’s development through an increased use of clean generation sources, reducing carbon as emissions associated with fossil fuel generation.

SDI’s Indian Alliance aims to install these systems in 4 more buildings in Mumbai during the first part of 2018.

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