US Dollars amount of Bankable Projects Identified:
US $650 million
Number of Cities Engaged:
Number of Deep Dive Actions:
Number of Partners Engaged:
Number of Trainings Delivered:
Is District Energy incorporated in national policy?
Has the stakeholder workshop to decide pilot cities been completed?


In many regions of India, space cooling is no longer a luxury but a critical element in promoting health and wellbeing (SDG 3), sustainable cities that are resilient to changing climates (SDG 11) and economic development (SDG 8).

According to India's Cooling Action Plan, demand for space cooling in buildings will grow by 11 times between 2018 and 2038. By 2050 the International Energy Agency forecasts that India is likely to be the largest consumer of space cooling in the world with space cooling responsible for 28% of electricity demand and 44% of peak load.

This demand for space cooling will be concentrated in India’s rapidly growing cities - driving power shortages, water scarcity and increasing urban temperatures. In addition, the majority of space cooling is today run on coal-based electricity and use environmentally-harmful refrigerants – exacerbating local air pollution, ozone layer depletion and climate change.


The Initiative has partnered with Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL) as the national coordinator of the Initiative in India. The below coordination structures have also been established

National Steering Committee

The Initiative has formed a National Project Steering Committee to guide the initiative’s work and ensure linkages are realised between district cooling and large national policy goals, such as 100% electric vehicles by 2030, the Smart Cities Mission, the Solar Cities Programme, Energy Conservation Building Code, National Cooling Action Plan and commitments to climate-friendly refrigerants.

Members currently include: Bureau of Energy Efficiency (co-chair); Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (co-chair); Ministry of New and Renewable Energy; the National Institution for Transforming India (NITI Aayog); the Energy and Resources Institute (TERI); ICLEI South Asia; Thane Municipal Corporation; International Finance Corporation; UN Environment and Energy Efficiency Services Limited (National Coordinator) and many more.

Expert Working Group

India’s Expert Working Group consists of industry, financiers, manufacturers, city networks and operators from across the Initiative’s partnership and is growing monthly. Members are supporting the Initiative’s activities in Thane and other cities, inputting to and reviewing technical studies and policy analyses and supporting project proponents from project concept to investment. In addition to the partners listed above, the EWG includes local stakeholders and international groups, such as the Asian Development Bank.

Implementing Partners on the ground:

Broad Group, Carbon Trust, Clarke Energy, Copenhagen Centre on Energy Efficiency (C2E2), Danfoss, Empower, Energy Efficiency Services Limited, General Electric, ICLEI - Local Govenrments for Sustainability, International District Energy Association (IDEA), International Finance Corporation (IFC), International Solar Alliance (ISA), ISHRAE, King & Spalding, PWC, Renew Power, Shell, Tabreed, Thermax


UN Environment is promoting a city-led approach to space cooling that complements ongoing strategies and policies but unlocks the power of local governments to tackle space cooling close to demand by using district cooling systems and trigeneration. These are relatively new technologies in India, but they will be crucial to unlocking large-scale local renewables, maximizing efficiency and balancing India’s ambitious designs for a renewables-based power system.

In India, the Initiative is working with different government levels, industry, power utilities, real estate developers and financiers to design and deliver the necessary policy frameworks, stakeholder coordination structures, financing instruments and urban planning approaches conducive to bringing projects to successful investment.


Promising Beginning with Rapid Assessments

In November 2017 the Initiative launched the results of five city rapid assessments of district cooling (Bhopal, Coimbatore, Pune, Rajkot, Thane), identifying over $600 million of commercially viable district cooling projects – the first publicly available district cooling assessments in India. The Initiative will launch a rapid assessment tool for district cooling and will support other cities to receive rapid assessments.

Thane - India's first district energy pilot city

The Initiative is tailoring international best practice on district cooling to its first pilot city in India: Thane. A range of partners are supporting the city, including EESL, ICLEI South Asia, the International Finance Corporation and the Carbon Trust. Two projects have undergone prefeasibility studies and the Initiative aims to have secured investment bids in at least one project and a city commitment to a 20-year District Cooling Plan by the end of 2019. The Initiative is already working to replicate the experience in Thane across other pilot cities in India to ensure a wide variety of district cooling applications have been tested and lessons learned.

Rajkot - First Indian city to incorporate district cooling into its Smart City plan

In April 2015, the city of Rajkot signed-up to UN Environment’s newly established District Energy in Cities Initiative. Today, with the support of the Initiative Rajkot has incorporated district cooling into its Smart City Plan as part of the Government of India’s Smart City Mission. This will lead to the development of a $49 million district cooling project with 32,000TR of capacity in Rajkot’s Smart City Area. In February 2019 at a national workshop on district cooling held in Rajkot, the Initiative commited to focus support on the tendering of Rajkot's district cooling project and ensuring innovative technology options and policies underpin this development.

Amaravati - first state capital to adopt district cooling 

With support of the Initiative and its partners, the new state capital city of Amaravati has taken forward the design and tendering of a 20,000 TR greenfield district cooling project. Amaravati has coupled this with specific policy recommendations from the Initiative such as provision of free land for district cooling plants, mandatory connection of public buildings, identifying priority zones for district cooling and a public-private partnership model. In February 2019, Amaravati announced the award of this tender to Tabreed, a partner of the Initiative. Now the Initiative is supporting Amaravati to assess and plan how commercial and residential buildings in the rest of the city can be connected to an ever-expanding district cooling system with high shares of renewables and alternative refrigerants.

A National Programme for District Cooling

In November 2017, the Initiative published a high-level analysis of India’s national policy framework for district cooling and potential measures and incentives at the state and national-level that could be used to kick-start district cooling in the country.

Through Initiative publications, workshops, meetings and conferences recognition of district cooling as a solution to India’s potential cooling crisis has boomed. In February 2019 the government of India prioritized district cooling in the Indian Cooling Action Plan, a long-term country-wide strategy to provide thermal comfort for all citizens while minimizing negative impacts to the power sector and the environment.

To unlock unlocking finance for early-stage project development costs, the Initiative is working with the National Coordinator, EESL and government ministries to design a national programme for district cooling in India which could include a centralised support facility for cities interested in district cooling, dedicated finance for project development and new policies and regulations to incentivize district cooling development. 

DES in the News

31 Jan 2019
Initiative Updates
Cooling Smart Cities: The Arrival of District Energy in India
21 Mar 2018
Initiative Updates
Tackling India’s cooling growth head-on: EESL’s expansion into district cooling and trigeneration
01 Nov 2017
Initiative Updates
Accelerating District Cooling in India - Delivering Smart and Efficient Cities
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