Site decided, Govt clears mega solar project in Leh and Kargil

Prabha Raghavan, Anil Sasi
The first package was to be set up in the areas tentatively identified in Zanskar sub-pision and Taisuru block of Kargil district. (Express Photo by Shuaib Masoodi/File)

THE DECKS have been cleared for a Rs 50,000 crore grid-connected solar photo-voltaic project spread across Leh and Kargil districts the single biggest investment proposal in the region since Ladakh was designated as a Union Territory.

Union Power Minister R K Singh told The Indian Express that the Centre has finalised the sites for the solar project, alongside the implementation details of a crucial transmission link to ensure the viability of the project. Pang, about 117 km from Leh, has been finalised as the revised site for a major chunk of the 7,500 MW solar project after an earlier proposed site ran foul of environmental norms.

Additionally, the project has been rendered viable by segregating the crucial transmission corridor for evacuation of electricity from the overall project package, as against a combined package under a single tender that was being offered earlier. The transmission link has been routed via Manali in Himachal Pradesh and further to Kaithal in Haryana to ensure that electricity can be feasibly wheeled from the proposed project billed as the country s biggest solar project in capacity terms.

Union Power Minister R K Singh.

The renewable energy ministry plans to eventually scale it up to a 23,000 MW grid-connected Ultra Mega Solar PV project in Ladakh, with the 7,500 MW package forming the first part of the larger project.

The site that we had earlier selected (Nyoma, 250 km from Leh) turned out to have some wildlife, so there were some environmental clearance issues. So we ve selected another site Pang… Now, transmission is an issue. (So), we are segregating the transmission from Pang to… Manali, and from Manali onwards to Kaithal. We re thinking of doing this as a part of our network expansion. Once we (do it), that ll become viable, otherwise the transmission costs were making it unviable, Singh said.

The Solar Energy Corporation of India Ltd (SECI) a company under the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy had issued a Request for Selection earlier this year for the development of the grid-connected solar power project spread across Leh and Kargil. The total capacity of 7,500 MW was, at that time, pided into three packages of 2,500 MW each.

The first package was to be set up in the areas tentatively identified in Zanskar sub-pision and Taisuru block of Kargil district while the remaining two packages were to be developed at Hanley Khaldo area of Nyoma sub-pision in Leh district, which has now been changed to Pang.

The Namgyal Tsemo monastery in Leh. (Express Photo by Tashi Tobgyal)

The scope of work would comprise the setting-up of the solar PV projects. The implementation of the entire power evacuation infrastructure (substations along with transmission lines), till the drawl point (tentatively planned to be located in New Wanpoh), which was originally envisaged as part of the single package, would now be executed separately.

A tender will be issued for selection of the project developer, who will be responsible for setting up the solar PV project. SECI will enter into power purchase agreements (PPA) spanning a period of 35 years with the successful bidders, who can avail fiscal incentives like accelerated depreciation, concessional customs and excise duties and tax holidays as available for such projects.

The project is being targeted for a tight 48-month commissioning deadline from the effective date of the PPA.