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Budget’s embrace of solar energy holds great promise for J&K

01:13 AM Feb 02, 2024 IST | MUKEET AKMALI
budget’s embrace of solar energy holds great promise for j k
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Srinagar, Feb 1: The Centre’s ambitious push for solar energy adoption is poised to unlock vast potential in Jammu and Kashmir. The move not only aligns with the global shift towards cleaner and sustainable energy sources but also promises substantial economic benefits for J&K.

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Embracing solar power is expected to alleviate the financial burden on the exchequer, offering a cost-effective alternative to traditional energy sources.

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In a forward-looking approach to comprehensive and inclusive development, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman unveiled a series of initiatives to promote green growth and renewable energy during the presentation of the Interim Budget 2024-2025 in Parliament.

As part of these measures, FM Sitharaman introduced a scheme for rooftop solarisation, aiming to provide up to 300 units of free electricity per month to one crore households.

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The inception of this programme, rooted in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s commitment on the day of the Ram Mandir consecration in Ayodhya, is expected to yield various benefits.

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These include significant annual savings of Rs 15,000 to Rs 18,000 for households, facilitating electric vehicle charging, creating entrepreneurship opportunities for vendors in supply and installation, and generating employment prospects for the youth with technical skills in manufacturing, installation, and maintenance.

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“Our government will expand and strengthen the e-vehicle ecosystem by supporting manufacturing and charging infrastructure,” the Finance Minister said announcing that greater adoption of e-buses for public transport networks would be encouraged through a payment security mechanism.

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As of April 2020, J&K boasted a total solar power installed capacity of 40.63 megawatts (MW). However, the latest figures, covering the period from April 2020 to October 2023, reveal a meagre addition of just 15 MW, bringing the cumulative solar power capacity to 55 MW by the end of October 2023.

The comparative analysis of J&K’s solar power growth against other states underscores the need for a more robust and accelerated approach within the UT.

While J&K recorded a modest increase of 15 MW in solar power capacity from April 2020 to October 2023, neighbouring Himachal Pradesh demonstrated a remarkable advancement, surging from 40 MW to 111 MW during the same period, reflecting a substantial 71 MW increase in solar power generation.

However, the slow pace and inadequate planning in developing solar energy plants have raised concerns among citizens and experts alike.

Expressing dismay over this shortfall, they emphasise the urgent need for a renewed government scheme.

Such a scheme should be supported by mass awareness, facilitation, and substantial subsidisation to encourage the swift establishment of solar plants in the region.
Experts said that a more proactive approach could yield significant benefits.

If only half of the registered consumers with distribution corporations in J&K initiated the installation of solar rooftop plants, approximately 50 percent of the energy demand for consumers could be met. Unfortunately, the J&K government launched the rooftop solar scheme in 2021, almost a decade after it was introduced by the Union Ministry of Renewable Energy in the country.

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