J&K must raise energy ambitions

Zafar Choudhary. Updated: 2/23/2018 12:38:45 PM Edit and Opinion

While Centre in November last year announced allocating 74% of unallocated power quota of northern region to Jammu and Kashmir, it is time that the state must make itself self-sufficient to not rely on such grants to help wade through the chilly winters and scorching summers.

A while ago, the Jammu and Kashmir Power Development Corporation had claimed that it is poised to construct more than 800 Megawatt Ratle hydro-electric project in Kishtwar district.

This comes in the aftermath of termination of contract with industry major GVK. Though its sincerity of intent is respected but JKPDC’s claims are suspect in view of the past records of construction and management of power projects. Only the time will tell how soon and well this ambition is accomplished but Jammu and Kashmir must make all out efforts to meet its energy needs, particularly when resources are abundant. Through, the demand for energy to meet economic development exists; a strategy should be developed towards lowering the Green House Gas emissions from the energy system besides satisfying the global demand for energy services. Increasing the share of renewable sources in the existing energy generation mix is assessed as the best possible option towards meeting the global energysupply challenge.

The State is currently focused on generation through big hydro power project. Potential of micro Hydel power and Solar are increasingly being tapped. Grid electricity penetration in remote hilly areas of J&K is techno-economically unviable by virtue of geographical disadvantages and scattered household pattern. Moreover, 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 which would also promote low carbon growth and can meet the decentralized energy requirement of the remote locations. The State is largely dependent on the power generated from hydropower projects and thermal power plants besides supplements from DG set. Jammu & Kashmir has a total power generation capacity of 2,648.46 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 owing to untapped renewable energy, high rate of AT&C losses including pilferage. Out of total power demand of 17,323 million units, power generation from the State owned power houses is only 2,562.723 million units.

Bulk of electricity consumption in the State is by the domestic sector. With modernization and increased urbanization, per capita energy consumption of the State has increased from 849.98 kWh in 2010-11 to 882.82 kWh. The energy demand has gradually increased during last five years at an annual rate of 5 to 6%. According to the sixteenth All India Power Survey, the power requirement of the State is expected to reach 19,500 million units during 2020-21. In view of this Jammu and Kashmir must raise its power generation ambition.

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