We have indications that the day is not far away when India will succeed in breaking her energy impasse. One important reason of very slow pace of her development in post-independence period has been the lack of dependable energy resource with her especially hydrocarbon resource. We have been and continue to be dependent on energy resource of the Gulf countries, Iran, Iraq and Saudi Arabia in particular. It consumes major part of our income.
However, among a number of options, solar energy seems to become popular with Indians and the Indian State. Accordingly, no emphasis is shifting to production of solar energy and investing massively in its production. The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi has in a recent meeting approved the enhancement of capacity from 20,000 MW to 40,000 MW of the Scheme for Development of Solar Parks and Ultra Mega Solar Power Projects (UMSPP). The enhanced capacity would ensure setting up of at least 50 solar parks each with a capacity of 500 MW and above in various parts of the country. It has to be said that Ladakh was the first region where the Union Ministry of Solar and Renewable Energy had taken the initiative of installing solar power for home and street lights. By and large this has been a successful experiment and now that mega solar energy programme is in the agenda of the Government we hope that the experiment of having solar parks will begin with Ladakh.
Solar Parks and UMSPPs will be set up by 2019-20 with Central Government’s financial support of Rs 8,100 crore.When operational, the total capacity will generate 64 billion units of electricity per year which will lead to abatement of around 55 million tons of CO2 per year over its life cycle.
It would also contribute to long-term energy security of the country and promote ecologically sustainable growth by reduction in carbon emissions and carbon footprint, as well as generate large direct and indirect employment opportunities in solar and allied industries like glass, metals, heavy industrial equipment.
The solar parks will also provide productive use of abundant uncultivable lands which in turn facilitate development of the surrounding areas.
In final analysis, our State has many expectations of improving its energy scenario by joining the solar power generating states in near future. Employment potential which these solar parks are likely to generate will be the added benefit of shifting to solar power consumption cartel.