In February the Himalayan state of Himachal Pradesh, which is facing the brunt of climate change impacting lives, environment and the economy, and the World Bank discussed a greener and more sustainable growth path to achieve the target of a ‘Green Energy State’ by 2026.

It is believed to be one of the largest renewable agendas planned by the state where more than 90 per cent of the population resides in the rural areas. They largely depend upon traditional biomass like crop residues and animal dung, mainly for domestic use.

Also, climate change and unsustainable development in the state, whose growing economy highly banks on hydroelectric power, high-value horticultural and vegetable products and tourism, leads to extreme weather events that are projected to spike over the next few decades.

The state’s major sources of renewable energy include mini and micro hydropower and solar, biomass and wind energy. Of late, there has been a noticeable increase in the solar and wind power share with the amended policy compared to hydropower.

At the meeting, the World Bank indicated that it is keen on the Green Resilient Integrated Development programme for the state with a basin approach at an estimated cost of Rs 2,500 crore ($300 million) depending upon the technical analyses, which may be enhanced further, an official statement said.

Taking another step towards the green, clean and sustainable generation agenda, the three-month-old state government led by Chief Minister Sukhvinder Sukhu, who is himself monitoring the clean energy agenda, last month announced the development of two panchayats in all 12 districts as ‘Green Panchayats’ by commissioning a solar power project, ranging from 500 KW to 1 MW capacity, on a pilot basis.

Also, the youth of the state will be given a 40 per cent subsidy to set up solar power projects ranging from 250 KW to 2 MW on their own or leased land as per the state budget provisions for this fiscal.

A solar power-based battery energy storage system project is proposed to be set up in Pangi in Chamba district to strengthen the power supply system in one of the remotest regions of the state.

The government also proposed the Himachal Pradesh Power Sector Development Programme with the assistance of the World Bank. Under this, there is a provision to construct solar power projects with a capacity of 200 MW and to construct 11 sub-stations and two distribution lines serving 13 towns.

Himachal Pradesh’s hydropower generation potential is 23,500 MW — about 25 per cent of the country’s total hydropower potential. A total of 10,580 MW has already been harnessed, according to the state’s economic survey 2022-23 released last month.

As per official data, the state-run Himcoste has identified 10 schools for establishment of grid-connected solar power plants to propagate the concept of energy conservation in schools.

The grid-connected solar rooftop power plants of 30.10 MW capacity have been installed by Himurja, the state energy agency responsible for exploitation of small hydro electric projects up to 5 MW.

Till last month Himurja invited applications for setting up ground-mounted solar power projects of 100 MW with capacity ranging from 250 KW to 5 MW. It has been asked to evolve a mechanism for the state to get royalty from solar projects above 3 MW capacity.

The state’s first solar power facility of 5 MW was set up by the Himachal Pradesh Power Corp Ltd (HPPCL) near the hilltop Naina Devi shrine in Bilaspur on January 4, 2019. This facility generated 32.66 million units till December last.

Also, HPPCL is in the process of commissioning solar plants of 150-200 MW with the assistance of the World Bank.

Likewise, public sector SJVN is coming up with five solar power projects in Himachal Pradesh.

With the promise to develop Himachal Pradesh as a ‘Green Energy State’ by March 2026, the budget outlines plans to set up solar projects of 500 MW in 2023-24.

The hill state will be developed as a ‘Model State for Electric Vehicles’ which will be encouraged in a phased manner with the collaboration of the private and public sectors.

To make the state a leading green hydrogen-based economy, a Green Hydrogen Policy will be brought.

The budget talks about the Himachal Pradesh Power Sector Development Programme with an outlay of Rs 2,000 crore that will be launched with the assistance of the World Bank.

The Himachal Pradesh Kaushal Vikas Nigam, which develops the skills of the local youth, will train 500 people in solar energy.

In another green push, the state transport department in February became the first in the country to switch its entire fleet of petrol and diesel official vehicles to electric ones.

As per the plan, all government departments will be equipped with electric vehicles within a year for a sustainable and cost-efficient system.

Green hydrogen will be promoted to make the state a leading green hydrogen-based economy, as per the budget.

Source – IANS