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Can Ladakh the Cold Desert become India’s Solar Desterec – Massive Benefits

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Ladakh,one of the most beautiful hilly regions lying near the Chinese border has one of the highest potentials in generating solar power in India.Note under JNNSM,India is targeting more than 20 GW in the next 10 years and already large solar farms are coming in the desert areas of Rajasthan and Gujarat.However,Indian policy has mostly neglected the less inhabited region of Ladakh.Most of the policy initiatives have been low key in nature and mostly to provide the region with off grid solar power,solar cookers and solar lights.What has been missed is to build massive solar panel farms and connecting them with a transmission line to the power hungry states of the North.Just like Himachal Pradesh has become a massive hydro power exporting state,Ladakh can do the same trick with solar power.

Solar Panel prices have fallen by 50% in 2011 and now solar energy can be profitably be generate at Rs 7/kwh.While this is more expensive than coal at Rs 4/kwh,the thing to be remembered is that this power value is constant for 25 years and it has no coal disadvantages which kills thousands each year.Also it increases Indias ‘energy security and reduce improts of expensive coal.It also will provide more employment and generate economic value internally beside supporting the Indian construction and EPC companies.

Read about the advantages of solar energy.

Leh-Ladakh region, gets about 300 days of sunshine each year and companies like Tata BP Solar, Moser Baer, other small and medium solar companies and even start-ups are making a beeline for Ladakh to tap the business opportunity there.Tata BP Solar is working on 87 different solar power plants with capacities ranging from as small as 5 kilowatt peak (kWp) to 1.2 mega watt (mw) in various parts of Ladakh

Why Ladakh has ideal solar conditions

Ladakh lies on the rain shadow side of the Himalayan. Where dry monsoon winds reaches Leh after being robbed of its moisture in plains and the Himalayan mountain. The district combines the condition of both arctic and desert climate. Therefore Ladakh is often called “ COLD DESERT

The main features of this COLD DESERT are:

  1.   Wide diurnal and seasonal fluctuations in temperature with -40°C in Winter and + 35°C in Summer
  2.   Precipitation is very low with annual precipitation of 10cm mainly inform of snow.
  3.      Air is very dry and relative humidity range from 6-24%
  4.   Due to high altitude and low humidity the radiation  level is very high. The global solar radiation is as high as 6-7 Kwh/mm (which is among the highest in the World)

What is Desterec Project

The Desterec Project in Africa is an ambitious project planed by a number of top energy,utility and financial companies in Europe to build massive solar thermal power plants in Northern Africa and to transport the power to Europe through underground power grid lines.While I don’t like the technology being used the concept is really sound and benefits both the solar power generators and users.

Desertec is a Euro 400 Billion Solar Thermal Project to provide  15% of Europe’s Electricity Needs by 2050 from Power generated in the Deserts of North Africa.The Desertec Industrial Initiative (DII) was launched with much fanfare by 12 European Companies in July 2009 with plans of constructing 100 GW of CSP Plants in the Sahara Desert which would be transported by High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) Undersea Lines to Europe.What gives the Concept the Heft and Influence is the Participants are Giants of European Industry like Siemens,ABB,Deutche Bank,Munich Re,Abengoa etc.Besides a number of new Green Companies like First Solar have also joined the consortium.However  Desertec Advantages which are explained very eloquently on Desertec Website totally fail to explain how the it will compete against the rapidly falling costs of Decentralized,Distributed Photovoltaic Solar Energy.There  are number of Points which I think  makes Desertec just a Dream rather than Reality.Is the Humongous Solar Thermal Desertec Project a White Elephant Doomed to Fail?


Sneha Shah

I am Sneha, the Editor-in-chief for the Blog. We would be glad to receive suggestions, inputs & comments on GWI from you guys to keep it going! You can contact me for consultancy/trade inquires by writing an email to

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