With the Central Government clearly shifting focus to renewable sources of energy to meet the future energy requirements, the Government has proposed that all special economic zones (SEZs) should meet at least 25 per cent of their lighting needs through solar energy, a move aimed at making optimum use of green energy in such labour and power intensive zones.

Draft guidelines

Officials in the Commerce Ministry said that draft guidelines for the Green Special Economic Zones had been formulated and would be circulated for debate before they are put into action. The guidelines state that at least 25 per cent of the installed external lighting load should be solar powered.

The Government had recently approved the ambitious Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission with an aim of setting up 20,000 MW grid solar power and 2,000 MW off-grid solar power by 2022. The mission also aims to develop solar technologies for making solar power competitive to conventional grid power and install 20 million sq. m. solar thermal collective area by 2022. Officials said the Government was also of the view that at least half of the requirement for the huge bill boards used for advertising or display be sourced by solar power. The draft proposals intend to make all new and existing SEZs green as the government wants existing SEZs to go in for green certification. In addition to lighting requirements, the draft proposals also call for a minimum of two per cent of estimated energy consumption for each zone from solar or other forms of renewable energy and scale it up gradually. The draft document states that over a period of 10 years, solar/other forms of renewable energy must be extended from two per cent to a minimum of 20 per cent of total estimated energy consumption. The all-new buildings in the SEZs would have to be energy-efficient as per the Energy Conservation Building Code (ECBC), the guidelines state. On water consumption, the government suggests at least 30 per cent of the rain water be harvested in each tax free zone or SEZ. The draft also says each zone should have its own eco-friendly transportation facilities such as electric vehicles, CNG, bio-diesel or any other environment-friendly fuel.

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