To ensure that the rapidly expanding renewable energy capacity and planned auctions of large-scale solar and wind energy projects have the adequate transmission capacity to supply power to demand centers across the country, India has announced expansive plans to set up transmission projects.
Reuters has reported that the Indian government plans to auction 54 gigawatts of transmission projects by March 2020. The value of these projects is pegged at around $5 billion. The news agency quoted a senior official of the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy to report that 16 gigawatts worth of transmission tenders shall be put on the block by June of this year.
India has completed auctions for 12 gigawatts of transmission projects by December 2018, while an additional 38 gigawatts of transmission projects will be bid out between July 2019 and March 2020.
The projects are understood to have been planned in a manner to compliment the aggressive auctions timeline announced by the government for large-scale solar and wind energy projects. The government plans to finish all solar and wind energy auctions by March 2020 that would result in installed solar and wind capacity to reach 100 gigawatts and 60 gigawatts, respectively, by March 2022.
Among the largest and most ambitious solar power projects would be the proposed installation of 25 gigawatts of solar power capacity spread across the state of Jammu and Kashmir. The Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) recently issued tenders offering project developers to set up 7.5 gigawatts of solar power capacity in the districts of Kargil and Ladakh. SECI is believed to offer tenders for 17.5 gigawatts of additional capacity in the future. Power generated from these solar power projects is expected to be supplied to all northern states in the country. However, adequate transmission network to support these power plants and transmit power from these power plants at long distances is yet to be implemented.
The idea to set up these projects had been doing the rounds since at least 2014 but the tenders could not be launched until earlier this year due to several factors, including the want of a transmission network.
Non-availability of adequate transmission capacity to support renewable energy projects has been a major concern among project developers. These concerns have been shared with the government officials as well. Lack of transmission support is believed to have been one of the major reasons for developers staying away from some large-scale solar and wind energy tenders. Solar and wind energy tenders with initially planned sizes of up to 2.5 and 3 gigawatts were reduced to 1.2 gigawatts.
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