The state government of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) to set up 7,500 MW of solar power projects in the state (refer).
- The report on ‘Desert Power India 2050’ claims that if 5% land (in Ladakh region) is used for solar- it would installation of 38.2 GW of solar power
- The reports envisages a National Desert Mission that could be undertaken by the MNRE and Planning Commission of India
- Even if the mission were to become reality, Ladakh would be one of the last to get an ultra-large scale power plant
The genesis for this project is most likely based on a report (Desert Power India 2050 – Integrated Plan for Desert Power Development) published by the Power Grid Corporation of India Limited. The report is on the feasibility of using wasteland desert areas in India for installing large wind and solar power projects.
This report claimed that Ladakh region in J&K has 11,177 sq. km. of wasteland area and if 5% of that can be used for solar, it would allow for an installation of 38.2 GW of solar power.
The report envisages a National Desert Mission/ Policy in the future that could be undertaken by the MNRE and Planning Commission of India to set up 300 GW of renewable capacity in the desert regions of Thar, Rann of Kutch, Ladakh and Lahul & Spiti. Such a plan would require balancing reserve requirements of 68 GW from concentrated solar power with storage, pumped hydro storage and other storage options such as grid-scale storage and flywheel. New transmission infrastructure with a capacity of 216 GW would also be required. Such a plan would require investments to the tune of INR 43.8 trillion (USD 714 billion) until 2050.
However, it is important to note that any such plan is still only a ‘plan’ and no concrete steps have been taken in the direction of realizing it.
Even if a National Desert Mission was to become a reality, Ladakh region will be one of the last to get an ultra-large scale power plant due to adverse geographical conditions and terrain where the construction of a project and its related transmission infrastructure will be particularly challenging even as compared to other desert regions such as Thar in Rajasthan and Rann of Kutch in Gujarat.
Until then, it should just be seen as an illustrious announcement of an outgoing Minister for New and Renewable Energy for his home state.