Solar Energy is now cheaper than other forms: Dr P R Dhar

Jammu And Kashmir Energy Development Agency (JKEDA) is among the prominent departments of Jammu and Kashmir state looking after energy needs of masses.

 P R Dhar, Chief Executive Officer (CEOJAKEDA, in an exclusive interview with the News Kashmir talks to Rameez Makhdoomi & Farzana Mumtaz

Tell us something about JKEDA Mandate?

JKEDA has a mandate to implement renewal programmes in the J&K state and main thrust is on  hydroelectricity and solar sources .In solar we are undertaking Jawaharlal Nehru Solar Mission , under the mission the ministry has a target of 175 Gigawatt, out of 175 Gigawatts the one lac megawatts i.e 100 Gigawatts have to be developed under solar energy .

In JK upto 25 megawatts is segregated in two parts .Upto 10 Megawatts the mandate is with JKEDA, LREDA, KREDA, above 10 to 25 Megawatts the mandate is with Power Development authority .

Earlier the whole mandate was with power development department . In 2011 the mandate upto 2 Megawatts was given to JKEDA and recently it has been enhanced to 10 Megawatts. Under Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar  Mission to achieve the target of 100 Gigawatts we have segregated it into different schemes – one is Rooftop scheme under which ministry has target of 40000 megawatts i.e 40 Gigawatts till 2022.Under the same states have been allotted their own targets .JK state during 2014-2015 had target of two megawatts , 2015-2016 56 Megawatts, 2017-2018 54 megawatts till now we have completed around 112 megawatt target, while as 450 megawatts target is to be achieved till 2022.

Pertinently, they have sanctioned one  project for two megawatt only unless and until we don’t finish that then only they will sanction balance  , because under MNR 70 percent subsidy is provided to JK for the domestic sector and for institutions registered under societies act. For the government side the subsidy is given only when project is completed within given period of time as any delay above three months the subsidy gets reduced substantially and further reduced if delay is more under roof top scheme. Than we are promoting off-grid solar power planets as well as decenteralized systems i.e solar  home lighting systems till now we have covered  all un-electrified  villages of jk .84000 solar lighting system have also been provided for partially electrified areas.

Ministry under PDMP has sanctioned 20000 solar  street lighting system to be installed in streets, community places i.e shrines,  temples, mosques and other important places. We have already placed orders for diverse lighting systems which would be available within one month.

Can solar generated power be answer to load-shedding problems ?

Yes solar as source of power can definitely be an effective answer to our woes of power curtailments especially to those large areas where heavy snowfall cuts power supply for days together .The system is simple as getting charged during day when we don’t require light  the solar panels will provide non- stop solar power at night.

Would be it right to say solar energy is costlier ?

Solar energy is now much cheap if you go by recent bids finalized at national level. The tariff has come to as low as 2.50 paise per unit , as it now varies from 2.50 paises to 3.50 paise .Earlier when Jawaharlal Nehru national solar mission was launched in 2010 the agreement was as high as 70 Rs per unit than it got reduced to Rs 30 in 2012 and then to Rs 9 and now it is cheaper than hydro, thermal sources.

What is being done to upgrade human resource of the department ?

We have kept the provision of employing about  48  JES and 34  Aes to improve the efficiency of the Department and these very posts will be advertised next month .

Are we going to see establishment of solar parks in our state by JKEDA?

We have already identified 6000 kanals of land for establishing mega solar park in Samba district of Jammu region and in this regard have to pay Rs 18 crore ( 16.5 crore for land cost towards forest Department and 1.5 crore for plantation) and once formalities are complete we will establish it .

As far as establishing any such park in Kashmir is concerned we don’t have a long stretch of land available at anywhere to establish same. We have to bear in mind for one Megawatt you require 40 kanals of land and for 100 megawatts we require 4000 kanals .

What is the data of unelectrified households and have you reached those?

The data as per PDD is about 3500 household that remain unelectrified in the state and they were long back in year 2003-04 provided solar lighting, as we had procured around 8300 solar home lighting that time under remote village electric mission   and given to such households.

Tell us more about the realms of rooftop solar scheme ?

The rooftop scheme is a visionary project .It is a recent scheme for those areas which have grid as the energy which you generate via solar panel gets transferred to grid. Under Rooftop scheme the household is a energy generator  and your solar panel is connected to grid .During day time excess energy gets transferred to grid and in night you utilize, the bidirectional meter is installed wherein you pay for the difference between generation and consumption. Pertinently, one kilowatt generates 4 units a day which is priced at Rs 3 per unit for domestic sector  that means you earn 12 a day .For year you earn about 4000 to 5000 and you recover investment after four to five years and start earning after this. Importantly, the one kilowatt solar panel is priced at Rs 65000 but here in JK State it is attractive due to subsidy of 70 percent and one has  to just pay RS 19500.

Tell us a bit about hydro electricity power projects ?

We have framed policy of mini hydropower projects up to 2 megawatt and allotted 30 sites  to Independent Power  Producers i.e local entrepreneurs , they will develop these projects at their own costs as it is sort of business generation .We have been sanctioned  1000 crore allotted under Prime minister development package to be used  for hydropower projects  till 2022.

We have in this regard identified 13 project sites and work will commence soon on 5 projects.

A bit about upcoming projects?

We are developing 100 megawatt under EPC mode, they will be all commissioned within a period of 3.6 years .We have prepared DPR’S for five projects sites and tenders bidders have qualified and in second stage rates will be finalized .In the month of October the final bidders will qualify after proper tendering.

Your message to common masses?

My message to masses is that do take full benefit of rooftop solar panel scheme so that we in the J&K state become self sufficient in producing solar energy and met our electricity needs. We will also by this be producing clean, green sources of energy.