Ladakh, known for its pristine natural beauty and colourful mountains towering over vast swathes of desolate land, is set to add another feature to its fame —the world’s largest single location solar PV (photo- voltaic) plant.
Some 200 km to the south in Kargil, another mega project will join forces to light up the plains of India, keep glaciers cool by saving 12,750 tonnes of carbon emission a year, remove dependence on diesel gensets and create livelihood for the local population which remains cut off for 6-8 months a year.
Solar Energy Corporation of India, under the renewable energy ministry, is promoting the projects in J&K.
The SECI has planned power projects in Ladakh and Kargil on a scale matching the grandeur of their locations—5,000 MW (mega watt) for the Ladakh unit and 2,500 MW for Kargil—to be completed by 2023 at an estimated investment of Rs.45,000 crore. The Ladakh project will be located at Hanle-Khaldo in Nyoma block, a strategically important area 254 km from Leh.
Kargil project will be built at Suru in Zanskar, 254 km from the district HQ. Power from Ladakh project will flow to Kaithal in Haryana, for which a new 900-km line will be laid mostly along the Leh-Manali road. Kargil project will hook up with the grid at New Wanpoh near Srinagar.
The project bids offer flexibility and many firsts such as combining the solar plant and associated transmission lines. This puts promoters, who otherwise have to depend on another entity for transmission and suffer if evacuation routes are delayed, in control.
The projects are expected to spur development in the remote border regions and empower the local population through skilling for jobs such as cleaning of solar panels and maintenance of lines as well as transformers etc.