Chennai can be a clean energy champion while benefiting from cheaper power and reduced air pollution

Chennai | April 24, 2018| The city of Chennai has the potential to be a solar champion, according to a Greenpeace India report, titled, Rooftop Revolution: Unleashing Chennai’s Rooftop Potential [1], released today. The report finds that the total rooftop solar potential of this city is 1,380 MW. If realised, this can help the city reduce the power demand by about 10%. For residents, solar makes for a solid investment, and would cut down on electricity bills considerably.

The study jointly undertaken by Greenpeace India and GERMI (Gujarat Energy Research and Management Institute) scanned the area under Greater Chennai Corporation (GCC) [2]  and estimates an average of 3.15 MW per sq. km. can easily be generated through installing rooftop solar panels. A big share of this, nearly 46 percent, can come from the residential sector.

Some of the major landmarks that have a sizable potential are listed below:

  • Railway station roofs can hold 3,582 kW
  • Metro station roofs can hold 1,696 kW.
  • Bus Depot roofs can host approximately 938 kW of solar PV.
  • The Chennai International Airport can host approximately 889 kW of rooftop solar.

The monthly PM10 data for 2016 from Tamil Nadu[2] indicates that three out of seven cities in the state had higher concentrations of PM10 than the annual average levels prescribed by the CPCB (at 60 µg/ m³) and WHO (at 20 µg/ m³). For Chennai, the pollution level was at 71 µg/ m³ in 2016.

“Switching to solar will not only help Chennai reduce air pollution by bringing down its dependence on coal as a source of power, but also help policy makers, planners and installers in Tamil Nadu contribute to the India’s overall rooftop solar PV goal of 40 GW by 2022, which is crucial for India’s voluntary contribution to the Paris Agreement. We need the state government of Tamil Nadu to make it easy for residents of Chennai to adopt rooftop solar PV,” said Pujarini Sen, Climate & Energy Campaigner, Greenpeace India.

This study tell us that our common citizens and householders have the power to herald the solar revolution in Chennai. Chennai has always been a city for arts, culture and the strong intellectuals. I certainly hope that the city will also be known for environmental leadership,” said Akhilesh Magal, Head – Advisory, Renewable Energy, Environment, and Energy Efficiency, Gujarat Energy Research Management Institute (GERMI), who led the research of this report.

“Distributed renewable energy generation and energy storage systems are important parts of a sustainable energy future for all. The reports are very useful in assessing the contribution that rooftop solar PV systems can make to this energy future. The next step would be to assess for each rooftop solar PV segment, the required enablers including policies, regulations and financing models,” said Toine van Megen, Co-Founder, Auroville Consulting based in Tamil Nadu.

But there is a long way to go. Solar rooftop uptake has been lackluster in metro cities [4] thus far. Further, As of December 2017, only six out of 29 states & seven UTs are complying with the centre’s Renewable Energy Purchase Obligation (RPO) targets [5]. Tamil Nadu has 10,639.44 MW of renewable energy installed in the state as of 2017, but lags behind in terms of RPO compliance at 81 percent of the target. As per a Greenpeace report released in 2013, Tamil Nadu was a leading state in RPO compliance, but as per solar rooftop notification dated January 2017,  Tamil Nadu along with Rajasthan and Uttarakhand have been pipped by Andhra Pradesh and Andaman & Nicobar Islands.


Jitendra Kumar, Sr Media Officer,

Greenpeace India: Ph. 0986817337; email: [email protected]

Pujarini Sen, Renewable Energy Campaigner,

Greenpeace India: Ph: 08586016050; email: [email protected]


[1] Link to the report:

[2] This includes the area of St Thomas Mount as well, which does not fall under GCC

[2] Airpocalypse II

[3] Metros Slow to Switch on the sun

[4]Only six states complying with Renewable Purchase Obligations targets others undermining centres targets