Workshop on Solar Energy Action Plan for Ladakh Region held in Leh

On the 2nd of September, 2009, a one-day workshop on Solar Energy Action Plan for Ladakh Region was successfully organized jointly by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) Government of India, The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), Ladakh Renewable Energy Development Agency (LREDA) and Ladakh Ecological Development Group (LEDeG). The workshop was organized under an MNRE sponsored project carried out by TERI titled “Preparation of action plan for large-scale implementation of solar energy technologies in Ladakh region”.

It was meant to provide a platform for local stakeholders, experts, policy makers, investors/developers, and technology manufacturers/suppliers to come together and have focused discussions on how to provide impetus to the evolution and development of the solar energy technologies and market in Ladakh region.

The workshop was attended by various central and state government dignitaries. Chief among them were Dr Farooq Abdullah, Hon’ble Cabinet Minister, MNRE, GOI, Mr. Omar Abdullah, Hon’ble Chief Minister, J & K, Hon’ble Chief Secretary, J&K. Mr. Chering Dorjay, Hon’ble CEC, LAHDC along with his executive councilors, various district officers and representatives of various NGOs from across India were also part of the workshop.

The pre-lunch session was chaired by Mr. Chering Dorjay, Hon’ble CEC, LAHDC. The key participants were Mr. Phuntsog, Executive Councilor (Agri.), LAHDC, Dr Ashwini Kumar and Dr. A. K. Singhal, MNRE, Dr. M.P Singh, Advisor, MNRE, Jigmet Takpa, LREDA, Mr Pentu Norboo , Ex-MLA. The session was started by an introduction to the workshop by Mr Shirsih Greud , TERI.

The main objective of the workshop was to identify the potential for Renewable Energy Interventions in the Ladakh Region.
Energy use pattern of the area revealed that almost 90% of the energy consumption is for household and domestic sector, mostly for cooking, space heating and home lighting and the same are identified as the high potential areas for renewable energy interventions. Also agriculture sector is seen as becoming a potential area of intervention in the coming years. It is also estimated that almost 18-20 villages in the region will not be connected to the grid with the present electricity distribution plan.
Keeping the climatic conditions and availability of ample amount of solar energy, it was suggested that Solar PV system would be best suited for the region.

Representatives from MNRE also provided information on the schemes provided by the Ministry. The applicable areas under the scheme identified for Ladakh were: Large Scale Installation of Solar Water Heaters for domestic as well as commercial establishments as opposed to use of coal, wood and other fossil fuels, Community Solar cookers and Passive Solar Housing.

The NGOs working in the region also shed light on the feasibility of various renewable energy technologies in the region. For eg. the SK-14 has been a huge success and more such installations can be done across Ladakh.
Insights from the CEC brought to notice the various lacunas in implementation of such technologies starting from scarcity of funds. It was felt that agencies like LEREDA have to be strengthened for promoting renewable energy in the region. It was also suggested that apart from Solar Energy, efforts should be made to tap other sources as well. Wind and geo-thermal were suggested as possible alternatives as even hydro-power has limitations due to the extreme weather conditions. At the same time it was stressed that government aid is essential and other potential areas still have to be discovered. Better subsidies and loans should be made available so as to scale up the utility of such technologies in the region. Application of renewable technologies to agriculture and animal husbandry like green houses and lambing sheds have proved beneficial and should be promoted at large scale.

The presentations from the various manufactures of renewable technologies from across the country brought to light the availability and feasibility of the different technologies available. It brought to light the feasibility in terms of cost-effectiveness of renewable technology for domestic as well as commercial purposes. Hotel owners reported that with the installation of solar water heaters they have been able to save up-to Rs.80, 000 annually which would otherwise be spend on purchase of wood for heating up water. Again the possibility of subsidy from the government was stressed.

In closing session of the workshop, MNRE presented its Action Plan for Ladakh region in presence of Mr Farooq Abdullah, Mr Omar Abdullah, S.S Kapoor, Chief Sec, J & k and other state and district dignitaries. Union Minister, Dr Farooq Abdullah stressed the need to reduce dependency on diesel by both army and civilians of the region and stressed the need of energy for the prosperity of the region.