New Delhi set up a group of ministers in August to prepare a blueprint of development in these territories, after the abrogation of Article 370, which had granted special status to Jammu and Kashmir.
The federal government has now cleared a massive solar power generation project for Ladakh at an investment of Rs. 50,000 crores (approximately $700 million) with an optimum capacity of 23,500 mega watt power. These projects would be set up in the Leh and Kargil districts of the territory, confirmed official sources.
Power generated from the facility, considered to be the biggest solar project in India so far, would be transmitted to the national grid from Leh through Manali in Himachal Pradesh and Kaithal in Haryana.
“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", Raj Kumar Singh, federal Minister for New and Renewable Sources of Energy told the English daily, The Indian Express.
The project would initially have a capacity of 7,500 mega watts, which would ultimately be scaled up to 23,000 mega watts. The government has already issued a Request for Selection of Solar Power Developers to set up the project through global competitive bidding.
New Delhi had earlier announced plans to invest $80 billion in the expansion of the country’s renewable energy resources. Finance Minister Nirmala Sitaraman told Parliament in July that an additional $250 billion would be further invested between the years 2023 and 2030 in this sector.
India currently ranks fourth globally in terms of wind power generation, while in solar energy, it ranks fifth. The share of renewables in the nation's total electric power generation increased from six percent in 2014-15 to ten percent in 2018-19 amid a national drive to provide all communities with electricity.
The cumulative installed capacity of renewable power, excluding hydro, is above 25 MW, and more than doubled from 35 GW in 2014 to 78 GW by March 2019. India has set the target of achieving an installed capacity of renewable-based power of 175 GW by the year 2022.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been championing the cause of clean energy and was one of the pioneers in setting up the International Solar Alliance (ISA) along with then French President Francois Hollande. ISA sought to provide a dedicated platform for cooperation among solar resource-rich countries.
“We want to bring solar energy into our lives and homes, by making it cheaper, more reliable and easier to connect to grid", Modi said at ISA's launch in Paris in November 2015.