One of India’s largest solar power parks, and certainly the most challenging to implement and operate, has attracted tremendous interest from some of the leading technology companies and project developers.
Indian media news outlets reported that representatives from 20 leading companies in the power and renewable energy domain visited the sites for the proposed 7.5 gigawatt solar power park planned in the state of Jammu & Kashmir. The solar park will be divided into two projects — a 5 gigawatt project in the district of Ladakh and a 2.5 gigawatt project in the district of Kargil.
Some of the leading companies that have shown interest in this solar park include transmission equipment suppliers and manufacturers like ABB, Siemens, Power Grid, Adani Transmission, BHEL, and L&T Construction, as well as project developers like Hero Future Energies, Mahindra Susten, and Tata Power Solar.
Officials of the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) and the Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) are expectedly very happy to have such a resounding response to the tender. Not only is it the largest solar power project in the country, it is in perhaps the most challenging terrain for project implementation of any kind. The idea for the solar park was first floated in 2014 but it took almost five years for the SECI to come out with a definitive tender.
Security, treacherous terrain, and no existing transmission network to cater to such large capacity were the major concerns that led to this delay. These concerns remain still.
Ladakh is a peaceful region, and it is one of the remotest in India with very few connectivity options with the rest of the country. A new transmission line is being constructed to ensure that power from the 5 gigawatt project flows down to the states with significantly higher power demand than Jammu & Kashmir.
Kargil, where a 2.5 gigawatt project is planned, is the district that witnessed the 1999 war between India and Pakistan and has a very heavy presence of troops. While MNRE officials claims that the the project locations are very safe, added security measures are expected to add to the cost of project implementation. It remains unknown at the moment who would bear that added cost though. A new transmission line from the Kargil power plant shall deliver power to Jammu & Kashmir’s capital Srinagar.
The solar park is an interesting project due to its location and some of the features of the tender. Ladakh receives the highest solar radiation per unit area in India making it very suitable, at least technically, to host a large solar power park. The tender also allows project developers to enter a 35-year power purchase agreement which is probably the longest duration for any renewable energy project in India. Thus, the level of participation and tariff bids would definitely be the things to watch.