PM Modi Brings 7.5 GW Ladakh Solar Project Back into Focus

PM Narendra Modi on Saturday during his Independence Day speech reinstated the Centre’s aim to establish a 7.5 GW solar power park in Ladakh

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday during his Independence Day speech reinstated the Centre’s aim to establish a 7.5 GW solar power park in Ladakh to set the union territory on course to becoming carbon neutral.

In his speech, Modi said that “Ladakh has several specialties. Not only do we have to preserve them, we have to nurture them as well. As Sikkim has made its mark as an organic state in the northeast, Ladakh — Leh and Kargil — can also create their own niche as a carbon-neutral regions,” as he mentioned about the proposed solar park project.

According to TOI, the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) is moving to partly fund the linked transmission line, the cost of which was making power unaffordable. “The transmission project is being included in the Centre’s Green Energy Corridor Phase-II for viability gap funding (VGF),” as per Power Minister RK Singh. Which will make the transmission project eligible for up to 40 percent Viability Gap Funding (VGF) from the Centre.

It is believed that the project has been planned with an estimated outlay of Rs 45,000 crore and the project is set for commissioning in 2023, saving 12,750 tonnes of carbon emissions in every year of operation. Of the 7.5 GW capacity, a 5000-MW unit is being planned at the Morey plains, some 215 km east of Leh. And a 2,500-MW unit is to be built at Suru in Zanskar, 245 km east of Kargil.

Some 25,000 acres in Leh and 12,500 acres in Zanskar has been earmarked for the project. The Leh and Kargil hill councils will earn Rs 1,200 per hectare, with a 3 percent annual escalation, according to TOI.

The project was first announced in January 2019 to be developed in Leh & Kargil districts of Jammu & Kashmir. The projects will now be considered part of the Union Territory of Ladakh.

At the time it was expected that SECI will enter into the Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with the successful bidders for the purchase of solar power for a period of 35 years. 10 years longer than the current norm of 25 years for utility-scale solar power projects. It was also mentioned that the projects are a part of the scheme approved by the government for setting up of 23 GW grid-connected solar PV projects in the Leh & Kargil regions of then Jammu & Kashmir. The project is widely expected to be a showpiece project using better technology, and possibly hybrid and even storage options. Chances of a price ceiling on the project are also lower, to enable more participation.  Readers might recall an earlier story we did on the pre-bid meeting involving the same project, where among others, the issue of the high 30 percent CUF (capacity utilisation factor) had also come up.  The original deadline, always considered impractical, was April 30, 2019!

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Ayush Verma

Ayush Verma

Ayush is a staff writer at saurenergy.com and writes on renewable energy with a special focus on solar and wind. Prior to this, as an engineering graduate trying to find his niche in the energy journalism segment, he worked as a correspondent for iamrenew.com.

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