Avinash Nair Posted: Apr 12, 2012 at 0711 hrs ISTAhmedabad Gujarat, that boasts of becoming the ‘solar energy hub’ of the country, has just 16,000 solar-powered homes, way behind some of the socially and economically backward states like J&K, Bihar, UP, Jharkhand, MP and Odisha, where more households use to light up their homes.
The housing data figures of the Census 2011 show that Gujarat is far behind some of the states like West Bengal (2.38 lakh houses), Bihar (1.09 lakh) and Uttar Pradesh (1.56 lakh), that have the highest number of households as primary source to illuminate their homes.
Even the not-so-developed states — some of which have the most backward and strife-torn regions in the country, including Chhattisgarh (49,000 houses), Jharkhand (45,000) Odisha (34,000), Madhya Pradesh (40,000), Rajasthan (78,000) Uttarkhand (24,000) and Jammu & Kashmir (20,000) — have more households that run on solar power than those in a state where renewable energy occupies a significant portion (2000 MW) in the overall power generation capacity (16,000 MW) of the state.
The states of Maharashtra (57,000 houses), Andhra Pradesh (55,000) and Karnataka (25,000) that directly compete with Gujarat on the industrial front also have more solar-powered homes.
These figures presently do not seem to be in sync with claims of the Gujarat government about the state being on track to becoming ‘solar energy hub’ of the country; having the world’s -powered city (Gandhinagar), and being the first to have a ‘Rooftop Solar Policy’.
“The current installed capacity (of solar power) in Gujarat is 600 MW and this is the highest in the country. Gujarat is one of the leading states as far as solar power policies are concerned. They have supported a large programme and this has attracted a lot of investors,” said Santosh Kamath, Partner, Management Consulting, KPMG Advisory Services Pvt Ltd. He, however, did not respond when asked why Gujarat was lagging behind states like Bihar and UP in equipping households with solar power.
Though the state has the record of chalking out its own solar policy in 2009 — well ahead of the Centre’s Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission — and is on track to come out with a ‘Rooftop Solar policy (that will encourage property owners in the state to offer their rooftop or terrace for installation of Solar Photovoltaic system for solar power generation), the advances in solar power generation is yet to percolate to household levels.
Though the state government plans to introduce roof top solar power generation in urban areas, including Gandhinagar, Ahmedabad, Surat, Rajkot and Vadodara, the Census figures show rural parts of the state have scored over its urban counterparts in empowering households to use solar power.
As per the recent Census figures, among the 16,000 households in Gujarat that use solar energy, a majority 13,000 are in the rural areas, including villages in the Gir forest.
Apart from the existing 600 MW solar power capacity, Gujarat will add about 15 solar projects (having a total power generation capacity of 650 MW) when it will dedicate these projects to the nation at Charanka Solar Park in North Gujarat on April 19.