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Harnessing solar energy least priority in J&K despite having huge potential

Fate of 2 Ultra Mega, Solar City Projects hanging in balance

Mohinder Verma
JAMMU, Dec 29: Harnessing solar energy is the least priority for all the concerned agencies in Jammu and Kashmir despite the fact that State has second highest potential in the country after Rajasthan. Moreover, due to absolute non-seriousness the fate of two Ultra Mega and a Solar City Projects is hanging in balance during the past several years.
As per the study conducted by the National Institute of Solar Energy (NISE), Jammu and Kashmir has solar power potential of 111.05 GWp (Gigawatt-peak), which is the second highest in the country after Rajasthan where the potential is 142.32 GWp. None of the other States in the country have the potential even up to 65 GWp.
“However, no serious attempts are being made to harness this potential to make the State self reliant in this sector”, sources said while disclosing that during 2016-17 year merely 0.77 Million Units of electricity was generated from solar energy. Astonishingly, during the current year not even single unit of electricity has been generated from renewable energy till date.
Notwithstanding the fact that solar energy can play crucial role in meeting the electricity requirement of the State, the potential is being harnessed only for operating solar lanterns and lamps, street lights and pumps in certain parts of the State. However, majority of such lanterns and lamps remain defunct due to non-seriousness on the part of Jammu and Kashmir Energy Development Agencies (JAKEDA), sources informed.
It is pertinent to mention here that the States which have far less potential as compared to Jammu and Kashmir have been able to generate several hundreds of million units of electricity from solar energy.
Keeping in view solar energy potential particularly in Ladakh region, some years back the Union Government had sanctioned two projects-one each for Leh and Kargil to generate 7500 Mega Watts of solar power and even a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the Union Ministry of New and Renewable Energy and Science and Technology Ministry of Jammu and Kashmir.
Thereafter, the State Cabinet accorded formal sanction for setting up of two Ultra Mega Solar Power Projects and even a high-level coordination committee was constituted to give practical shape to the projects. “However, there is no progress on these projects despite lapse of several years”, sources said.
The intensity of non-seriousness can be gauged from the fact that even concerned authorities like Leh and Kargil Energy Development Agencies failed to give any satisfactory reply when approached by EXCELSIOR to ascertain the reasons behind dilly-dallying approach on both the projects.
It is worthwhile to mention here that average solar energy at Leh is 5530 Whr/m2/day while the estimated average for Kargil and Nubra is 5390 Whr/m2/day and 5300 Whr/m2 respectively because these areas of Ladakh region have best solar radiations in the country.
“Similarly is the fate of Solar City Project for Leh, which was also sanctioned by the Union Ministry of New and Renewable Energy several years back”, sources said while holding lack of proper coordination between the concerned agencies responsible for the prevailing  situation.
Astonishingly, an officer of Leh, who is directly associated with harnessing solar energy potential, expressed complete ignorance about Solar City Project when contacted. However, he shifted the responsibility on Jammu and Kashmir State Power Development Corporation and said, “the Corporation might be handling the project”.
“The inability to harness the solar energy potential is notwithstanding the fact that State has also formulated Solar Power Policy and the sole objective of the same is to promote generation of green and clean power by using solar energy”, sources said, adding “it seems that Solar Power Policy was drafted only to be hosted on the website of Jammu and Kashmir Energy Development Agency”.
Had there been seriousness in implementing the Solar Power Policy there would have been substantial progress in harnessing the potential. “Instead of treating the policy as an ornamental piece for the official website the Government should start implementing the same so that people derive benefit of huge potential”, sources stressed.

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