Dissertation Abstracts

Transition Experiments for Sustainability: Case of Solar City Projects in Gujarat

Author: Somokanta, Thounaojam , somocug@gmail.com
Department: Centre for Studies and Research in Science, Technology and Innovation Policy
University: Central University of Gujarat, India
Supervisor: Kunal Sinha
Year of completion: In progress
Language of dissertation: English

Keywords: transition experiments , solar city , gandhinagar , niche actors
Areas of Research: Regional and Urban Development , Social Transformations and Sociology of Development , Sociotechnics, Sociological Practice


Shifting completely from fossil fuels towards renewable energy seems to be impossible in Indian context because of the rigid dominant regime of fossil fuels. Coal regime constitutes largest share of energy holding 56 percent of the total energy. In the advent of 20th Century, continuous production of coal in mining and supplying to the thermal power plants has led to the green house gas emissions and climate change which is problematic and unsustainable. Indian Government assures that Carbon Capture Technology is a promising technology for bringing solutions of climate change but this technology is not much able to control emissions. Coal would remain a dominant energy in future. As the indigenous coal are not able to fulfil energy demands, the rate of imported coal has been kept increasing. Inspite of all this effort of the Indian Government, they are not able to provide electricity to the 300 million peoples who lack access to basic energy services. In this conjunction, the only alternative pathways towards energy security and reduction of import of fossil fuels would be the options of harnessing renewable energy and improving energy efficiency devices.
This doctoral work attempts to analyse the solar city projects in India with specify focused on the case study of model solar city project in Gandhinagar. Indian cities are experiencing rapid rise in peak energy demand and are responsible for the generation of huge amount of emissions. The implementation of the national solar city projects in 2010 by the national actor, Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) in selected 60 cities in India including Gandhinagar, has resulted into the reduction of conventional energy consumption in their respective city level. The project aims to reduce 10 percent of conventional energy consumption by 2015 by adopting renewable energy technologies and energy efficiency devices in all the sectors in the city. My research has found the achievement of this target.
The second section of case has analysed Bal Urja Raksha Dal (BURD) Program (it is an integral part of solar city project in Gandhinagar) that aims to educate students about the methods of energy conservation in the city. Since its inception in 2004, the program has been organizing energy related activities and suddenly the program stops during 2014-15 because of lack of responsible of concerned government officials. The narratives of the respondents reflect that the program has empowered children in the field of energy conservation and suggest the program would keep continue in the future. Methodologically, 15 semi-structured in-depth interviews has been conducted and 5 personal communications has been observed to the government body, research institutes and university as well as community science centre located in Gandhinagar. It concludes that Gandhinagar city acts as a locus of change where the radical experimentation of solar projects takes place. Local actors are very powerful and work closely with national and international actors to bring radical change of new technology in the city.