In J&K/Ladakh, Tapping Solar Power Potential


The former Jammu and Kashmir state were assigned a collective goal of 1150 MW Solar Power to be reached by the end of 2022, out of which 450 MW was to be got through Grid Connected Rooftop Solar Power. To produce solar energy in a short span of time is really a staggering task for the Government. A generous time has already been gone in the sensitization of stakeholders and barely any development has been recorded on the ground. Though noticeable progress in residential supply in terms of excellence of voltage has been done, yet many more requirements to be done to reach nearer the Mission of the Central Government’s, 24×7 incessant power supply in all the regions by 2022.

There are no two opinion that everybody at the top acknowledges the importance of alternate energy sources for the development of J&K UT / UT Ladakh. It is the right time that focus should be shifted from Hydro generation of power to Solar, Wind and other renewable sources. The gestation Period required for completion of solar power generation projects ranges from 5 to 6 months whereas 6 to 8 years are usually required to put in operation hydro power projects. We have already lost a lot of our valuable time in making us to wade through the marsh of troubles and miseries. In case the Solar Power is not properly tapped at this point of time our miseries will spike. This is high time to lift ourselves from the morass and tread the path of development as the team at the top in the Governance is with the mighty shoulder of Lieutenant Governor Girish Chandra Murmu.

The J&K UT / Ladakh UT state largely depends on the power generation from hydropower projects, thermal power besides from DG sets. The erstwhile Jammu & Kashmir has a total generation capacity of 20,000 MW hydro power. The J&K UT/Ladakh UT state is heavily relying on power purchase from the grid and thermal power generation units and gas and diesel-based power units during winters when their own hydro power generation nose dives and power demand increases. We are facing a power crisis due to untapped renewable energy, high rate of AT&C losses, and pilferage.

The J&K UT is presently focusing on generating power through big hydro power projects and very little has been done to tap the potential of micro hydro power and solar energy. Grid electricity penetration in remote hilly areas of UT is techno-economically unviable, as geographical disadvantages and scattered household patterns pose a big problem. Moreover, the power sector of J&K UT is already facing difficulties like slow rate of capacity addition, poor power evacuation facility, high AT&C losses, and mismatch in load profile. The power utilization mix is not commensurate with the climatic conditions. In J&K UT , the Promotion and utilization of renewable energy is the most feasible solution. Further, there is also a challenge in the path of harvesting solar energy in the varied topographical features of the union territories of Jammu & Kashmir and also of Ladakh UT. There is a need for implementing different methodologies in different areas to realize the set target of a 1150Mw of Renewal energy by 2022. As per Guidelines, the Cumulative capacity of solar installations in the area cannot be more than 20% of the distribution transformer capacity and 50% of the individual sanctioned load. This aspect is also to be kept in mind while planning the exploitation of solar energy in such remote hilly areas.

The J&K UT blessed with immense potential for renewable energy projects. Considering the region’s vast potential to harness renewable resources and to promote clean energy, investment in this available sector promises high returns. There is a need for encouraging the local sector to increase their investments, encouraging young qualified engineers in renewable energy by providing higher returns on their investments. Engineers, scientists, developmental agencies of government, and NGOs, etc. are required to work on this aspect of non-traditional energy sources for the development of eco-friendly, farmer-friendly power generation systems in almost all the Panchayats. The micro solar projects having a short gestation period will prove to be economical, beneficial, and most environmental-friendly in the long run. These projects can bring sustained energy to the state. It is urged that cooperative and constructive efforts are required for the efficient harnessing of renewable energy by all local stake holders.

For the speedy development of the union territory, a comprehensive action plan needs to be formulated and practically experimented on the ground. We have to deploy all the available resources, machinery, workforce, positive, practical systematic approach, one mindset, one cause, one action by following a simple straight and shortest path to success.
It is an admitted fact that no Government in any country can afford to provide employment from the Govt. Sector alone to all its young workforce but at the same time, it has the responsibility of the Government to see how the young force would stay alive gracefully. Due to lack of industrialization and other development projects, these young engineers do not get the opportunity, exposure of working /experience, and consequently do not get jobs outside-in view of their having hardly any experience. Now, our Government has to address this problem of unemployment before it is too late that the engineering degree/diploma holders may even forget and mentally drain the technology learnt to result that the very simple definition of famous ohm law could not be remembered. We have at present lakhs of the unemployed workforce, engineers, and others. Their talent can be utilized in the development process of the union territory. A comprehensive plan for self-employment is the only solution to achieve the objective of the development of the territory.

What we need is self-sufficiency in energy generation besides developing industry at village level. The foremost priority is to harness solar power in almost in all the 4000 Panchayats of the territory in a well-planned manner by installing 2MW solar power projects on a shadow free sun facing areas and a 70 kanals piece of uncultivated waste land in each panchayat in community IPP mode. These projects at the Panchayat level will generate power, setup small village industries and can be constructed with the collective efforts of the people of Panchayat, each with a group of 4 young unemployed engineers, local developers, financiers and in house engineering technology. The power shall be purchased by the Government by entering into PPA. The revenue generated shall be proportionally shared with the Panchayat and utilized in the development of the Panchayat. With the availability of power, the small village industries can be then established with the help of small village and industry board. This will generate local employment. Further, by being self-sufficient in energy, we can compete with advanced and industrialized nations and shall be the exporter of power.

As of now, there is a capability to manufacture white power type fuel alternate to coal at the panchayat level out of waste material (STINGERS AND NEEDLES) collected from forest areas and manufacture from solar powered devices using power. The calorific value of this fuel is much more than coal. The manufacture of this fuel at the Panchayat level will generate mass employment for all the persons in the collection of waste material from the forests and shall prove to be of a great source of revenue to the forest department, which otherwise is a waste and a cause of great loss by way of jungle fire.

It is the responsibility of the Government to come out expeditiously with a comprehensive and practicable action plan of solar policy for achieving the first assigned target of 1150 MW solar power by 2022. The plan should be very simple, workable, encourage local developers, young unemployed engineers, local financiers to achieve the objective of the development of the union territory, give mass self-employment by way of generating solar power of 2 MW almost in each Panchayat in community IPP mode. This 2MW solar project shall be of a distributive type and shall be close to the consumer by feeding power to the nearest 11kv lines. In this way, no big network of transmission lines shall be required. We can ill afford big solar farms in view of rugged topography and hilly terrain. What we need is the will of the Government and only 70 kanals of wasteland in each Panchayat?


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