Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) is all set to implement India’s first Geothermal Field Development Project in Ladakh. A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to formalize this has been inked by ONGC Energy Centre (OEC) with the Union Territory of Ladakh and Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council, Leh on 6 February 2021. This MoU, which was signed in the presence of the Ladakh Lieutenant Governor, is the first step towards creating a Carbon Neutral Ladakh.
This project of ONGC will put India on Geothermal Power map of the World. Geothermal resource development can revolutionize 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.
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 MW power capacity. Phase-II would involve deeper and lateral exploration of geothermal reservoir by drilling of 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 1970s and initial exploratory efforts were made in 1980s by the Geological Survey of India (GSI). But development efforts to exploit geothermal energy by government as well as private agencies did not materialize for some reasons.