J&K utterly wasting its solar power potential, second-highest in India

J&K utterly wasting its solar power potential, second-highest in India

Just 1.36 MW harnessed of a target of 1,150 MW; Deputy Commissioners not even aware of Div Com’s orders to find land for projects

SRINAGAR: Jammu and Kashmir has huge deficit in the electricity it requires to light up homes, yet it has not harnessed its plentiful energy resources, particularly solar energy.
Out of the total 1,150 megawatts which the state was supposed to harness from the sun, it has only harnessed 1.36 MW. Despite repeated reminders from Government of India, directions from the state administration, and reduction in targets, the situation continues to be the same.
This inefficiency has been perennial despite the state having to foot huge bills for buying power from states outside. Increased availability of solar energy would save the state Rs 5,000 crore in expenses and generate employment, too.
Solar energy is believed to be the cheapest and most environmentally sustainable source of energy. Its harnessing could do much to aid the state’s energy deficit. At present, the Jammu and Kashmir Government provides electricity mostly by purchases from various private companies despite the huge cost. In the last six years, the state, which has a 50 percent revenue generation gap between the energy bill it foots and the energy bill it realises, has spent over Rs 28,000 crore on purchase of power.
The government has even failed to tap into the full potential of hydro power generation for the last many decades. J&K has an estimated potential of 16,000 MW in hydro power, but has till now harnessed only 3,000 MW.
As per a study conducted by the National Institute of Solar Energy, the state has a solar power potential of 111.05 GWp, the second highest in India after Rajasthan, which has a potential of 142 GWp.
Non-availability of funds, which often remains the reason for the delay of projects, has not been the reason in this case, but unavailability of land. The GoI has released close to Rs 150 crore for solar projects, Rs 49 crore in 2016-17, Rs 16 crore in 2017-18, and Rs 85 crore in 2018-19.
Last year, the divisional commissioner Kashmir even asked each deputy commissioner to identify land for a solar project, but the process has not moved beyond papers. Kashmir Reader spoke to deputy commissioners of seven Kashmir districts, most of whom were not even aware about the directions of the commissioner. Two commissioners, after they sought time for looking for the directions, said they had not received any from the commissioner. One DC said thathe had identified the land, sent the communication to the commissioner, but there was no follow-up.
Kashmir Reader has kept the identity of these officials hidden on their request.
As per Engaging Indian States (EIS), a knowledge portal which provides news and statistics of energy developments, context and analysis in India’s states, JK is on ninth position in the list of states that have lagged behind in harnessing solar potential. JK is even behind the neighbouring states of Punjab, which has harnessed 18 percent, and Himachal Pradesh, which has achieved 19 percent.
According to figures gathered by EIS, only seven states have made improvement in solar generation, with Andhra Pradesh leading with 2048 MW, followed by Gujarat (1262 MW), Karnataka (1260 MW), Madhya Pradesh (1116 MW), Rajasthan (2022 MW), Tamil Nadu (1697 MW), and Telangana (1609 MW.)