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NEW DELHI : ONGC plans to map the geothermal energy sources of India in search of clean energy.

Sushma Rawat, director (exploration) at the state-run oil and gas producer said the plans are at an initial stage and should begin to be executed in around a year’s time.

Geothermal energy is stored in the form of heat beneath the earth’s surface and is considered to be clean, renewable and carbon-free.

According to estimates, India has a potential of 10 GW of geothermal energy.

“In terms of geothermal energy, we have worked in Ladakh but that is just a starter. We are coming up with a geothermal map for entire India. Through that we can identify areas of high heat flows and high geothermal gradient. It is not the same everywhere; (it will be analyzed) where it is the maximum. It is the first stage of exploration. It will be more an atlas for geothermal energy," Rawat said.

Last August, ONGC began drilling in Ladakh in search of geothermal energy sources. But now the company plans to conduct surveys across the country.

So far, Ladakh has been identified as the most resource-rich region in terms of geothermal energy in the country.

Efforts are also under way to utilize geothermal energy from oil and gas wells in Gandhar oil field of ONGC’s Ankleshwar asset in Gujarat.

ONGC says Puga and Chumathang in eastern Ladakh are the most promising geothermal fields in India, with a potential to generate about 50 MW of power. Post the drilling and testing of reservoirs, ONGC is expected to set up a pilot power plant of 1 MW by the end of this year.

Initial exploratory efforts in these areas were made during 1970-80 by the Geological Survey of India (GSI). But efforts to exploit geothermal energy failed to materialize for a variety of reasons.

Cambay Basin in western India would be the next region that ONGC Energy Centre would be targeting as it has several abandoned wells which are “non-flowing" for oil and gas but have rocks and sands that can sustain heat for at least 25 years.

On the same lines, ONGC is also working to utilize depleted oil and gas fields and wells for geothermal exploitation.

The focus on geothermal energy comes at a time when country has set an ambitious climate target of 500 GW of installed renewable energy capacity and net zero carbon emission by 2070. ONGC also has accelerated its diversification efforts through its ‘Energy Strategy 2040’.

Under the strategy, ONGC targets 5 GW of renewable energy capacity by 2040, with an intermediate target of 2 GW of onshore wind energy and 1.5 GW of solar energy by 2030.

The oil and gas producer has diversified into several sectors, including underground coal gasification, solar and wind energy and, last year, partnered with Norwegian state-owned energy company Equinor for a pilot project of carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS).

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rituraj Baruah

Rituraj Baruah is a senior correspondent at Mint, reporting on housing, urban affairs, small businesses and energy. He has reported on diverse sectors over the last six years including, commodities and stocks market, insolvency and real estate. He has previous stints at Cogencis Information Services, Indo-Asian News Service (IANS) and Inc42.
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