The Centre is reviving mega solar power projects in Leh and Ladakh, with a plan to set up 23GW of grid-connected projects. Private developers would be invited to submit tenders for these.
Their transmission network would be extended till Punjab, a distance of about 850 km.
The United Progressive Alliance government had tried to set up a 7.5GW solar project, but the plan never saw the light of day. The current government listed 5GW project in Leh in its list of ultra-mega solar project across county. The tender process has not begun for it yet.
In the phase 1 of the current plan, the Centre is looking to put up 2.5GW projects in Kargil and 5GW projects in Leh for tenders. Officials in the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy said the tender would aim at setting up a mega capacity project of 2.5GW at one location. India’s target for solar power is 100GW; current installed capacity is 22GW.
The project would be awarded by the Solar Energy Corporation of India, the nodal agency of the MNRE. The tenders would be issued by December 15.
According to an intimation of the tender on the SECI website, the scope of work comprises setting up the projects, along with implementation of the power-evacuation infrastructure. A single tender will be issued for selection of the project developer.
It also said the tentative plan is to set up projects in the Pang region of Leh and Zangla region of Kargil. The drawl point for the 2.5GW project is tentatively planned to be New Wanpoh. For the 5GW project, it will be Hisar.
In 2014, the UPA-led government had signed a memorandum of understanding with the Jammu and Kashmir government to harness close to 7.5GW of solar power generation capacity — 5GW in Ladakh; the rest in Kargil. However, inter-departmental tussle and lack of clarity on evacuation delayed and finally scuttled the project, said sources in the industry.
Senior executives in the central and state governments said transmission availability is a major issue and no investor, including the state-owned Power Grid Corporation of India, was ready to put up a transmission project. “Transmission is definitely the biggest challenge in the region, apart from the terrain and the short working season. The tender would allow the solar project developers to have a joint venture with power transmission companies and bid jointly for power plant and transmission,” said a senior official.
Peak demand of Ladakh is 200MW, met by its current installed capacity of hydro and rooftop solar and micro grids.
As the state has immense stretch of arid land, mega solar capacity was planned by the UPA government. No headway was made even with then MNRE Minister Farooq Abdullah signing the agreement in 2011 with the state government of J&K.
The National Democratic Alliance government revived the project by adding it to its list of solar ultra mega power projects. The target has now been almost tripled. Minister of State of Power, New and Renewable Energy R K Singh recently said the current government had a “mega solar plan” for the Leh region.
Industry experts said the cost of solar projects in this region could escalate to more than Rs 6-7 per unit. The current lowest tariff for solar is Rs 2.44 per unit.
There is no existing transmission network to support a solar capacity of the planned scale. Transmission system under Green Corridor-I is being built by PGCIL by connecting solar-rich states. Green Corridor-II for solar mega projects would be either built by project developers or bid out to private transmission companies.private transmission companies.