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ONGC plans to implement India’s first geothermal energy project at Ladakh

New Delhi: State-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) on Monday said it will implement India’s maiden geothermal field development project in Ladakh that will use the heat generated by the Earth’s core to generate clean energy. 

“A memorandum of understanding (MoU) to formalise this has been inked by ONGC Energy Centre (OEC) with the Union Territory of Ladakh and Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council, Leh on February 6,” the company said in a statement. This project of ONGC will put India on geothermal power map of the world. 

Geothermal energy is clean and is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Geothermal power plants have average availabilities of 90 per cent or higher, compared with about 75 per cent for coal plants. 

“Geothermal resource development can revolutionise farming in Ladakh, which is now totally dependent for supply of fresh vegetables, fruits from outside the UT round the year. Further, direct heat energy applications make it most relevant to Ladakh,” the statement said. 

ONGC has planned this field development in Ladakh in three phases. 

Phase-I involves exploratory-cum-production drilling of wells up to 500 metres depth and setting up of a pilot plant of up to 1 megawatt (MW) power capacity. Phase-II would involve a deeper and lateral exploration of the geothermal reservoir by drilling of an optimal number of wells and setting up of a higher capacity demo plant and preparing a detailed project report. 

Phase-III would involve commercial development of the geothermal plant. 

“Puga and Chumathang in Eastern Ladakh happen to be the most promising geothermal fields in India. These areas were discovered in the 1970s and initial exploratory efforts were made in 1980s by the Geological Survey of India (GSI). 

“But, development efforts to exploit geothermal energy by the government as well as private agencies did not materialise for some reasons. After the creation of UT Ladakh, efforts were taken up earnestly by ONGC Energy Centre, culminating in this MoU,” the statement said. 

Geothermal energy is an energy source that is stored in the form of heat beneath the earth’s surface, which is clean, renewable, sustainable, carbon-free, continuous, uninterrupted and environment-friendly. 

It is the only renewable energy available 24×7 to mankind not requiring storage and unaffected by day-night or seasonality variance. 

India has seven geothermal provinces and a number of geothermal springs. 

Geothermal resources in India have been mapped by GSI and broad estimate suggests that there could be 10 gigawatt (GW) geothermal power potential, as per the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE). 

ONGC, with its mission of ‘retaining a dominant position in the Indian petroleum sector and enhancing India’s energy availability and recognising the fact that petroleum resources are dwindling worldwide’, has taken steps to look at all forms of alternative energy. 

It founded ONGC Energy Centre Trust (OECT), under the Indian Trust Act, on August 8, 2005, with a mandate to undertake or assist in programmes/projects of fundamental and applied research. It will help in improving and developing commercially viable energy mediums and sources beyond hydrocarbons, especially in clean and/or renewable energy options. 

The Ministry of New & Renewable Energy has provided a letter of support to OEC vide letter dated April 9, 2020, for the Ladakh Geothermal Project.

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