- The 900-km link will help big green energy projects in the Union territory supply power across India
- Work on the national grid is on with green energy corridors being set up in two phases with a total investment of ₹47,000 crore
The government plans to set up a 900-km power transmission link that will help large solar and wind energy projects in Ladakh supply electricity across the country, said Anand Kumar, secretary in the Union ministry of new and renewable energy.
The move is part of India’s strategy to develop the Union territory of Ladakh. The ₹11,000-crore marque project seeks to resolve grid connectivity problems faced by the region. This is also expected to attract investments for setting up green energy projects in the cold desert region.
The power link will initially transfer around 2,500 megawatts (MW) and will be developed in the third phase of the green energy corridors to help tap Ladakh’s solar energy potential of 40 gigawatts (GW).
The strategic project assumes significance as it will help supply power to the people of Leh and Kargil districts, besides defence establishments, during harsh winters and also help transmit surplus power to the rest of the country in summers. However, its construction will be a logistical challenge, considering the region remains snow covered for nearly six months with very low temperature and oxygen levels.
“Various options are being discussed to facilitate the power transmission project. It can be either a VGF (viability grant funding) project or a PPP (public-private partnership) project or a mix of both. It may also have a generation component,” said Kumar.
VGF is a grant and is at the centre of India’s infrastructure-creation plans through PPPs.
Ladakh, Thar, Rann of Kutch, Lahaul and Spiti have the potential to generate 315.7 gigawatts (GW) of solar and wind power, and will require investments of ₹43.7 trillion over the next 30 years to 2050, according to a study conducted by the state-owned Power Grid Corporation of India Ltd. The government is also exploring the feasibility of setting up storage projects in Leh-Ladakh.
The reorganization of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir into two Union territories has given the Centre direct control over Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh. This, in turn, is expected to speed up approvals for infrastructure projects.
“Bhutan is praised in the entire world for its carbon-neutral image and other environmental initiatives. Let us all make sure that we develop Ladakh as a carbon-neutral entity,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in Parliament recently.
Work on the national grid is on with green energy corridors being set up in two phases with a total investment of ₹47,000 crore. Power Grid, which is working to improve the capacity and efficiency of inter-state transmission networks, is setting up transmission corridors to supply power from solar parks to the national grid.
The government is also trying to divide the electricity generated from hydropower projects by Jammu and Kashmir State Power Development Corp. Ltd and NHPC Ltd between the two youngest Union territories.
There are difficulties in setting up projects in Ladakh, but investments will be made to build transmission systems, Union power minister Raj Kumar Singh had said earlier.
India’s national grid comprises five regional networks—the northern grid, the southern grid, the eastern grid, the north-eastern grid and the western grid—which are interconnected. The stability of the power grid will be important in the transmission of green energy as it will have to factor in the variation in solar and wind energy generated. Also, lower capacity utilization of solar plants at 18-24% compared with up to 80% in thermal projects means that the transmission cost per unit of power is higher for solar energy.
India is running what will become the world’s largest clean energy programme with the aim of achieving 175GW of clean energy capacity by 2022 as part of its global climate change commitments. New Delhi plans to add 100GW of solar capacity by 2022, including 40GW from rooftop projects.