Unlock RE Potential

The UT of J&K presents a curious case in the realm of renewable energy (RE). While the recent report from the Ministry of Power highlights a marginal decrease in renewable energy generation compared to the previous year, the source remains solely hydroelectric power. The report paints a stark picture. Despite possessing the second-highest solar power potential in India and significant wind energy availability, J&K continues to rely heavily on conventional hydropower. While hydropower plays a crucial role, its dependence leaves the UT vulnerable to fluctuations in water availability and environmental concerns surrounding large dams. Diversifying the renewable energy mix is essential for long-term energy security and sustainability.
This raises a critical question: why, despite abundant potential in solar, wind, and biomass, does the UT lag in exploiting these diverse renewable resources? Several factors contribute to this paradox. Inadequate infrastructure and investment in alternative renewable sources like solar and wind farms remain significant hurdles. Biomass potential is also high, particularly in forest areas. The mountainous terrain presents challenges, but advancements in technology and innovative solutions can mitigate these concerns. Additionally, bureaucratic bottlenecks and regulatory complexities deter potential investors and developers.
Since last year, inconsistent rainfall patterns, marking the driest year in decades during both the winter and summer seasons, have significantly diminished hydroelectric energy production. UT is unable to meet its commitments to supply additional power to other states as per existing agreements. This has led to a looming crisis that has only been averted temporarily due to the benevolence of the Central Government. Despite grappling with significant losses in energy transmission and distribution and little progress in enhancing revenue generation and collection, authorities appear indifferent to exploring alternative energy sources, apart from sporadic efforts by individuals to install rooftop solar panels. Unlike many other states, which have converted open canal areas into solar panel units, there is a lack of initiative in Jammu and Kashmir, particularly in the Jammu region, where ample solar power potential exists, with irrigation canals providing almost year-round access to sunlight. Empowering local communities through renewable energy projects can foster sustainability and address socio-economic concerns. Some rules have to be charted out, like any new building project to be passed with solar rooftop provisions. There are already instructions to make Government buildings solar energy-compliant, but there has been little progress on this front.
J&K’s power woes demand immediate action. Authorities must conduct a renewable energy survey with solid project reports. Partnering with private investors and seeking central grants are crucial next steps. But all this hinges on the UT taking the initiative, which is currently missing in action. The lack of progress stands in stark contrast to the Government’s ambitious renewable energy targets. The Ladakh Renewable Energy Development Agency (LREDA) aims for 100percent renewable energy in Ladakh by 2027, showcasing the potential for progress. Jammu and Kashmir needs a similar push, with clear policy frameworks, streamlined approvals, and attractive incentives to attract investments in diverse renewable projects. The benefits of tapping into this untapped potential are multifaceted. Reduced dependence on fossil fuels translates to lower carbon emissions, contributing to climate change commitments and ensuring cleaner air for the region. The economic benefits are undeniable, creating jobs, attracting investments, and stimulating local economies.
Despite all these factors, right now, Jammu and Kashmir stands at a crossroads. It can continue down the path of limited renewable energy exploration, perpetuating its dependence on traditional and environmentally challenging sources. Or, it can seize the opportunity to unlock its diverse renewable energy potential. By addressing the existing challenges, implementing effective policies, and fostering community participation, the UT can embark on a transformative journey towards a sustainable and secure energy future. The choice is clear: embrace the full spectrum of renewable energy or risk falling behind. Overcoming the existing challenges and capitalising on its vast potential will be crucial for the transformation.