- A wind power project proposed in Reasi district in Jammu and Kashmir is yet to take off after a decade as agencies have not come to a consensus on a suitable model to develop the project.
- There is now a renewed interest among the stakeholders in developing the project.
- Jammu and Kashmir has abundant natural energy sources such as wind and sunshine but renewable energy is making slow progress.
With a view to tap the wind power potential in Jammu and Kashmir, a wind project was proposed in its Reasi district in 2012, but the project has seen no signficant progress in the past decade.
In 2012, the Jammu and Kashmir Energy Development Authority (JAKEDA) and NHPC, a public sector hydropower company, agreed to jointly develop a wind power project in Bidda village of Jammu and Kashmir, then a state. Ten years later, in 2022, the feasibility of the proposed project is still being discussed. Amit Kansal, an independent director of NHPC, was quoted in media, in May last year, saying that a potential of 25 MW of wind power had been assessed in Bidda village of Reasi district, in the now union territory of Jammu and Kashmir. NHPC and JAKEDA have yet to reach a consensus on a wind energy model that suits both parties.
NHPC conceived the project in 2012 and prepared a Detailed Project Report (DPR) to develop a wind power plant near the Salal Hydro Electricity Power Project in the Reasi district, Khalid Mehmud, an executive engineer at JAKEDA, told Mongabay India.
He further said that three proposals have been put forward so far. As per the first proposal, put forward in a meeting after the DPR was prepared, JAKEDA was to develop the project. In the second proposal, put forward by JAKEDA, NHPC was considered to develop the project independently. In the third proposal, NHPC proposed that it and JAKEDA would develop the project on an equal ownership basis. However, none of these proposals have materialised so far, Mehmud informs.
“After the site was identified in 2012, a meeting took place where officials from NHPC, JAKEDA, and the state government participated. In that meeting, all parties agreed that JAKEDA would develop this project as the state’s nodal agency. NHPC agreed with one condition: JAKEDA would not outsource the work to any external agency,” said Mehmud. For this, NHPC needed permission from the Ministry of Power to transfer land, from NHPC to JAKEDA. A joint report released in 2016 by the Government of India and the then Jammu and Kashmir state government (before the state was converted to Union Territories in 2019) states, “For the development of a 6 MW capacity Wind farm at village Bidda, Reasi, Land (213 kanals) presently under the possession of Salal Hydro Station, NHPC needs to be transferred to State Government/JAKEDA.”
However, the project did not move forward as the permission to transfer the land did not come through. With this, the first proposal of JAKEDA developing the projecting, did not materialise.
As Jammu and Kashmir was eager to develop the project, the second proposal, where NHPC takes over the project, was floated by JAKEDA, explains Mehmud. NHPC had the land as well as the power evacuation capacity, which would make it easy for it to develop the project. A senior NHPC official, who did not want to disclose his name, said that NHPC was willing to develop the wind project but needed a local agency to purchase the power generated from the plant. JAKEDA did not agree to this, the official claims. This led to the second proposal falling through as well.
The third proposal from NHPC to build the project with JAKEDA with equal ownership, also failed to move forward as JAKEDA did not have the financial resources to proceed, claims Mehmud.
The Reasi district site’s wind energy potential was assessed from 2010 to 2012. “Now, as technology has changed, we are again starting the process to scope wind site potential in collaboration with the National Institute of Wind Energy. There are chances that we will be able to identify a few more sites in Jammu and Kashmir beyond the one NHPC owns,” says Mehmud.
J&K’s natural potential
Jammu and Kashmir has abundant natural energy sources such as sunshine, wind, water, biomass and other biological waste. There is an untapped potential of renewable or green energy in the region and people rely on conventional energy sources, which in turn contributes to deforestation and pollution. The recent draft of the Jammu and Kashmir Wind Power Policy 2023, emphasises the urgent need for the region to harness its renewable energy potential. It states that the union territories of Jammu and Kashmir have an installable wind energy potential of 5311 MW at 50 metres and 5685 MW at 80 metres.
A research paper published a decade ago, in 2012, has provided an estimate of wind power capacity in different districts of the state, now UTs. According to the report, the Kupwara district had a potential of 5500 kWh of wind energy, when assessed for the 2012 study. Similarly, Anantnag, Baramulla and Udhampur had a potential of 5000 kWh, and Leh had 7,000 kWh.
The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) had set a target in the 2016 Power for All report, for renewable growth targetting 1,155 MW from solar plants and 150 MW from Small Hydro Projects (SHPs) to be achieved by 2022.
As per 2022 estimates, Jammu and Kashmir along with Ladakh also have high solar power potential – the second-highest in India – of about 110 GWP (Giga watt-peak) potential in total.
At present, Jammu and Kashmir union territories mostly rely on hydropower when it comes to installed capacity of energy. The state has a total installed capacity of 3732 MW, with big hydro contributing 3360 MW to its total energy mix. Renewable energy (not including big hydro) contributes 6% of the total installed capacity with 197 MW.
“Most of the electricity is generated by burning coal in India, a highly polluting process. We have to shift to renewable energy, not by conviction but compulsion,” says Tariq Ahmed Chalkoo, an Associate Professor at Government Degree College associated with Kashmir University, told Mongabay India. He says that wind energy costs are higher than hydroelectricity, but the latter’s prices will rise in the future. So, wind energy will become competitive, he claims, adding that it is sensible for Jammu and Kashmir to invest in renewable energy now.
Banner image: The first wind power project was planned to be developed at the site in the Bidda village of Reasi district of Jammu and Kashmir. Photo by special arrangement.