Solar energy fiasco
Our country is energy hungry. Despite having largest water and coal reserves that could help generate thermal as well as hydroelectric power in sufficient quantity to meet our requirements, we are always faced with acute energy shortage. We do not have crude oil and gas enough to supplement our stocks of energy. Even though whatever little oil is available and whatever gas is available have been harnessed and the country is importing crude from the Gulf which cost-wise computes to very huge oil bill. The importance of energy in modern world and especially in a country like India cannot be underestimated. If we have to maintain the rate of economic, industrial and commercial development then we have to have assured supply of energy from whatever sources available. There are no two opinions about it.
It is in this background that the Government focused its attention on harnessing solar energy to supplement our energy resources. Two States, namely Rajasthan and Leh and Kargil in J&K State, have been identified for possessing satisfactory level of solar energy owing to radiation which if harnessed would help both the states to become self sufficient in the matter of energy. A study conducted by the National Institute of Solar Energy (NISE), tells us that 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. How much of this potential are we utilising, is the precise question. That will show how much interests we evince in developing our solar energy potential to meet our requirements. It will be a shock to know that instead of making the State self sufficient in energy, 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. This is how our administration is handling the solar energy matter in the State.
It has to be mentioned that in view of our 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. About the fate of these two solar energy harnessing projects, the less said the better. Surprisingly, such is the level of short-sightedness at the administrative levels that the little potential harnessed is operating only solar lanterns and lamps, street lights and pumps in certain parts of the State. However, majority of such lanterns and lamps remain defunct owing to non-seriousness on the part of Jammu and Kashmir Energy Development Agencies (JAKEDA). Apathy and non-seriousness of Energy Development Agency are of the extent that the authorities are not even prepared to respond to the questions of the reporters, what to speak of showing any interest in carrying forward the task assigned to them. Worthwhile to say 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.
Similar is the fate of Solar City Project for Leh, which was also sanctioned by the Union Ministry of New and Renewable Energy several years ago. But thanks to abysmal apathy of the Government, not even a blade of grass moves. It is an eye opener that many states which have very limited solar energy potential are reported to be making maximum utilization of their solar energy resource but we are only loosing the huge quantity available to us.
We fail to understand how we can explain this phenomenon. In our opinion all that we can say is that there is rampant non-seriousness on the part of Government functionaries concerned with the ins and outs of solar energy harnessing activity. It sounds something like a dream to think that a day will come when we are able to harness all the potential that is at our disposal. For the time being our functionaries are knee-deep in bartering mutual accusations and allegations.