The BJP-led Centre is reviving mega solar power project in Leh and Ladakh with a plan to set up 23 GW of grid-connected solar power projects. The government would tender mega size solar projects to be built by private developers along with transmission network running up to Punjab. (See: Solar)
In the phase 1 of the current plan, the Centre is looking to tender 2.5 GW solar project in the Kargil Region and 5 GW in Leh district. Officials in the ministry of new and renewable energy (MNRE) said the tender would aim at setting mega capacity of 2.5 GW at one location. India’s target for solar power is 100 GW and current installed capacity is 22 GW.
The project would be awarded by SECI – nodal agency of MNRE and the tenders would be issued by December 15.
“The scope of work shall comprise setting up of the Solar PV Projects along with the implementation of the entire power evacuation infrastructure (substations along with transmission lines), till the draw point. A single tender shall be issued for selection of the Project Developer, who shall be responsible for the setting up of the Solar PV Project along with the power evacuation infrastructure,” stated the intimation of the tender by SECI on its website.
It further said the projects are planned (tentatively) to be set up in the Pang region in Leh and in the Zangla region in Kargil. Drawl point for the 2500 MW project is tentatively planned to be located in New Wanpoh and for the 5000 MW capacity, it has been tentatively planned to be located in Hisar.
In 2014, the UPA led central government signed a MoU with the Jammu & Kashmir state government to harness close to 7500 MW of solar power generation capacity – 5000 MW in Ladakh and balance in Kargil. However, inter-departmental tussle and lack of clarity on evacuation delayed and later killed the project. Senior executives in the central and state government said transmission availability is a major issue and no investor including state-owned Power Grid Corporation of India Limited (PGCIL) is ready to put up 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 200 MW which is met by its current installed capacity of hydro and rooftop solar and microgrids. As the state has an immense stretch of arid land, mega solar capacity was planned by the UPA government. No headway was made even when then MNRE minister Farooq Abdullah signing the agreement in 2011 with the state government of J&K. The NDA government revived the project by adding it to its list of solar UMPP. The target has now been almost tripled.
State minister of power and new & renewable energy R K Singh recently said the current government has a “mega solar plan” for the Leh region.
Industry experts cited that the cost of solar projects in this region could escalate to more than Rs 6-7 per unit. The current lowest tariff for solar bid 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 Corridors-II for solar mega projects would be either built by the project developer or bid out to private transmission companies.
Sunshine moment for Ladakh?
Target for Ladakh: 23 GW
Phase 1: 2.5 GW in the Kargil Region and 5 GW in Leh district
Tender: Solar project + transmission network (estimated at 900 kms HVDC line)
Earlier shelved plans: 7.5 GW solar power project
India’s current solar installed capacity: 22 GW
Solar target till 2022: 100 GW