Jammu and Kashmir is blessed with sizeable natural resources like sunshine, wind, vegetation, water flow, biomass and other biological wastes are abundantly available in the state yet are not being potentially harnessed which, if suitable harnessed on priority, could transform its economy and bring socio-economic development not only in the state but in the whole region. It has led in forcing peoples to use wood resulting to deforestation. The fossil fuels, which pollute the environment, are extensively utilised eventhough they are not sustainable. Among the major natural resources, water as a resource forms the base for its hydroelectric power and has strong potential to generate as a critical input not only for its economic activities but also as a large source of state revenue. The cost of providing kerosene, LPG or even firewood is very high due to higher transportation cost (i.e. 20-25% more than Jammu region). It has added advantage of widespread use, non-polluting nature and inexhaustible supply over other fuels. In the case of diesel sets, the fuel has to be transported from the plains. Due to the region’s remoteness, the cost of transportation maintenance as well as the cost of generation per unit is very high. Development and properly implementing renewable energy technologies in this state can provide secure energy supply for rapid domestic and industrial development which will attract new investments, thereby, creates additional employment. It shall also generate additional state income by allowing the state to sell renewable energy trading certificates to other states.
Energy is a vital component for sustained economic growth and the energy mix is an indication sustainable development of a state and the country. Energy, as an input available adequately has multiplier and trickledown effect, thereby, would give flip to the other sectors of the economy in the state. Since, the other sectors of the economy like agriculture are not strong enough to provide large revenue to the state, therefore, it becomes imperative for the state to look at this sector as a vital source for further economic growth and development. The other promising sector of the state i.e, tourism, is highly dependent upon the overall circumstances. There is an urgent need to shift from utilization based on fossil fuels, which not only are carbon intensive but also are not sustained.
Jammu and Kashmir has a huge quantity of biomass by-products, which can be utilized for electricity generation by the use of solar energy, bio gas, gasification technologies, etc. The Ladakh region gets approximately 320 days of sunshine for a year and is one of the best places in the world for solar cooking. The Ladakh Renewable Energy Development Agency (LREDA), the nodal agency of the MNRE is currently implementing renewable energy technologies across the region. To date, more than 30 companies from across India have put forward proposal for the execution of solar thermal and solar photovoltaic works, e.g. TATA BP Solar and Reliance.
Jammu and Kashmir is fairly untapped in the field of the wind energy. However, there is a significant scope of harnessing wind energy in different districts.
Table 1: Wind energy potential in different districts of Jammu and Kashmir.
S. No. District Wind energy potential(kwh)
The state is currently focused on generation through big hydro power projects. Potential of micro hydro power and solar are increasingly being tapped. Grid electricity penetration in remote hilly areas of Jammu and Kashmir is techo-economically unviable by virtue of geographical disadvantages and scattered household pattern. Morever, the power sector of the state is already facing difficulties like slow rate of capacity addition, poor power evacuation facility, high AT&C losses and mismatch in load profile. Power utilization mix is not commensurate with the state’s climatic conditions. Promotion and utilization of renewable energy is the most feasible solution.
The state largely depends on the power generation from hydropower projects and thermal power plants besides supplements from DG set. Jammu & Kashmir has a total generation capacity of 20,000 MW under central and state sector. The state is heavily relying on power purchase from the NEWNE grid and thermal power generation units and gas and diesel based power units during winters when its own hydro power generation reduces and power demand rises. The state is facing power crisis due to untapped renewable energy, high rate of AT&C losses including pilferage.
The major reason behind the existence of various dams that exist in the state of J&K is the generation of power are Salal project of Jammu and Kashmir having capacity of 690MW, Baglihar Dam having capacity of 900MW, Uri hydroelectric dam having generation capacity of 480MW, etc. The primary sources of cooking fuel in rural areas are firewood and chips followed by LPG. Urban cooking fuel demand is mainly met through LPG. The scenario is same in the rural areas too. At least 349 villages in Kashmir are without electricity despite the state having potential of 20,000 MW of power, an official survey has revealed. People in these villages still continue to live in ‘Dark Age’ at a time when rest of the world has progressed exponentially in terms of technological advancements. As per survey the district-wise number of villages without electricity as Kupwara (118), Budgam (88), Anantnag (67), Bandipora (39), Baramuul (17), Pulwama (13) , Ganderbal (3), Srinagar (2).
Jammu and Kashmir is a region with immense potential for renewable energy projects. Considering the region’s vast potential to harness renewable resources and to promote clear energy, investment in this sector promises high returns, there is an essential need for encouraging corporate sector to increase their investments in renewable energy by providing higher returns on their investments. Engineers or scientists, developmental agencies of government, and NGOs should work on this aspect of non-traditional energy resources for the development of eco-friendly, farmer-friendly power generation system. The micro hydel projects having 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 efficient harnessing of renewable energy.
If you want to share thoughts or feedback then please leave a comment below.