Solar power in India is the fastest growing power sector. As of June 2017, the country’s solar grid had a cumulative capacity of 13.11 GW. India has quadrupled its solar-generation capacity from 2,650 MW in 2014 to 12,289 MW in 2017 and expansion is going on. The country added 3.01 GW of solar capacity in 2015-2016 and 5.525 GW in 2016-2017, the highest of any year, with the average current price of solar electricity dropping to 18 per cent below the average price of its coal-fired counterpart. India is targeting US$100 billion in investment and 100 GW of solar capacity (including 40 GW from rooftop solar) by 2022. India’s initiative of 100 GW of solar energy by 2022 is an ambitious target, since the world’s total installed solar-power capacity in 2014 was 181 GW but with current pace its achievable.In addition to its large-scale grid-connected solar PV initiative, India is developing off-grid solar power for local energy needs. Our country has a poor rural electrification rate; in 2015 only 55 percent of all rural households had access to electricity, and 85 per cent of rural households depended on solid fuel for cooking. Solar products have increasingly helped to meet rural needs; by the end of 2015 one million solar lanterns were distributed in the country along with solar cookers , thereby reducing the consumption of kerosene. 1,18,700 solar home lighting systems were installed and 46,655 solar street lighting installations were provided under a national programme.
India and France have made an International Solar Alliance (ISA) with headquarter in Gwal Pahari, Gurugram for promoting and developing solar energy and solar products for countries lying wholly or partially between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn. With this alliance along with over 120 countries of the Paris COP21 climate summit, one hopes ISA will reduce production and development costs, facilitating the increased deployment of solar technologies to poor and remote regions. With about 300 clear and sunny days in a year, the calculated solar energy incidence on India’s land area is about 5,000 trillion kilowatt-hours (Kwh) per year. The solar energy available in a year exceeds the possible energy output of all fossil fuel energy reserves in India.
In Maharashtra, The Shri Saibaba Sansthan Trust has the world’s largest solar steam system constructed at the Shirdi shrine at an estimated cost of? Rs 1.33 crore which was paid as a subsidy by the renewable-energy ministry. The system is used to cook 50,000 meals per day for pilgrims visiting the Shrine, resulting in annual savings of 100,000 kg of cooking gas, and was designed to generate steam for cooking even in the absence of electricity to run the circulating pump. The project to install and commission the system was completed in seven months, and the system has a design life of 25 years.
Our state of Jammu and Kashmir, especially Jammu division can immensely benefit from clean solar energy as Jammu region has ample sunlight availability throughout the year. Leh, the cold desert commonly called as roof of the world at an altitude of 11,562 feet, is going to have distinction of world’s largest Solar Plant of 5,000 MW eclipsing earlier largest Rajasthan’s 4,000 MW plant . This solar power plant at Leh will require about 20,000 acres of land. Already 6 X 10 KW Solar – Wind hybrid have already been allotted at Leh .
Solar panels can be located in the space between the towers of wind-power plants. Solar-power plants can be installed near existing hydropower, utilizing the existing power infrastructure and storing the surplus secondary power generated by the solar plants. As mentioned all pumping stations of PHE gor water supply can be solar powered to overcome the hurdles of erratic, fluctuating and distribution problems of PDD which throughout this summer has been unable to provide round the clock power and thus collapsing water supply chain of the whole region. Similarly all leading hospitals, government offices including Civil Secretariat can go in for solar paneling. It’s just a question of planning and executing. On the pattern of Gujarat where Narmada canal network has been utilised to install solar panels, our network of Ranbir, Partap and Ravi canals can be used to get Canal Solar Plant implemented. With no militancy related bottlenecks on this side of tunnel, all this can be practically implemented meticulously thereby saving hundreds of crores of State exchequer money as well as nonstop supply of electricity.
The future of world energy is clean, renewable energy. Our State Government should seriously think and work on these Solar Power Plants. World is already moving towards clean energy and developed countries have already planned to phase out petrol – diesel transport ; electric cars are the future and by 2030 its estimated that all developed countries will be either having electric or solar powered transport system. It’s time to wake up from slumber, state government must go for introspection, planning, dreaming and implementing the projects. With so much support from our PM, it’s just a question of visualizing the projects, put it in presentation shape, get the projects sanctioned and taste the fruits of progress and prosperity.
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© 2017 State Times Daily Newspaper