Focus will be to tap solar energy in big way, develop small hydel projects: Sajad Lone
J&K government is all set to establish Renewable Energy Corporation (REC) to harness solar energy in a “big way” and focus on tapping other renewable forms of energy in the state, which is known for its vast hydropower resources.
Minister for science and technology Sajad Gani Lone who had floated the idea some time ago said Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti has given go-ahead to the proposal for establishing the corporation and the work on it will be started in next two months.
An official said once the corporation comes up it will enable the government to lift borrowing from the market to tap the non-conventional energy resources including solar and wind.
The solar energy generation is yet to start in real sense in the state and the concept is at present limited to home and street lights and lanterns.
Though J&K Energy Development Agency (JKEDA) works as state nodal agency for promotion and development of renewable energy programs and projects, it hasn’t been able to make any impact in the sector, also owing to limitations on raising borrowings from the market.
“That won’t be the case with the corporation which will have easy access to market funding and it will help us to tap solar energy in a big way and help develop hydel projects as well,” said Lone.
Under the corporation the focus will be mega solar plants of 100 MW and more, said the official, adding the perceptions that Kashmir isn’t ideally suited for solar energy was “misplaced”.
Also, the government hasn’t been able to keep pace with the target of developing 500-MW worth mini hydropower projects under “Mission Hydro-2022” by government of India.
Under the program the union government provides funding of Rs 7.5 crore per MW with maximum funding of Rs 20 crore. “The idea was to develop mini hydropower projects to help suffice the domestic needs,” said Lone.
The minister said the state government has got Rs 1000 crore under Prime Minister’s development package for renewable energy generation.
The department is already working on a proposal to build 14 small and micro hydel projects and is expecting to tender out four projects by end of September this year. The department has already fine-tuned the process for tendering out the projects and only those companies who are technically qualified and empanelled can henceforth participate in bidding process.
“We have the capacity to build mini hydropower projects worth capacity of 1500 MW to 2000 MW and it can suffice half of our energy demands,” said Lone.
An official said at present the department was focusing on developing grid connected roof tops in solar sector. He said the department will be adding around 100 MW of solar energy in couple of years on roof tops to private and government owned buildings.
The state has a hydro energy potential of over 16000 MW, but it has been able to tap just little over 1200 MW in state sector mainly due to lackadaisical approach of the government to fund the State Power Development Corporation (PDC) which owns 21 hydropower projects including 900 MW Baglihar project.