The Arunachal Pradesh government on Wednesday signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Norwegian Geotechnical Institute (NGI) to explore feasibility of harnessing geothermal potentials that the state’s numerous hot springs offer.
The MoU was signed by state science and technology secretary Repo Ronya and Dr Rajinder Bhasin, technical expert from NGI, in presence of Chief Minister Pema Khandu, Science and Technology Minister Honchun Ngandam, chief secretary Dharmendra and senior advisor of Norwegian embassy in New Delhi, Dr Vivek Kumar.
Congratulating the NGI and the department of science and technology, Khandu termed the signing of the MoU as a right step towards green and clean energy production especially in the light of global warming concerns.
"It is a great coincidence that this MoU is being signed on World Tourism Day as its theme this year is ‘Tourism & Green Investment’ that perfectly goes in tandem with this new initiative," the chief minister said.
He expressed optimism that the study would lead to development of renewable geothermal sources in the state and increase energy supply to meet present and future demands.
"Many of the hot springs are located in mountain areas where generators run on fossil fuel for electricity and heating. These can be replaced by geothermal energy with no CO2 emissions," Khandu said.
Admitting that this is completely a new technology for the state, the chief minister expressed hope that NGI, with its expertise in the field and experience in successfully implementing a project in Ladakh, will give a new direction to energy production that would be beneficial not only to the local populace residing in the high mountains, but also to the army personnel posted there.
Khandu also expressed hope that Arunachal’s relation with NGI will go beyond harnessing geothermal resources, especially in the fields of road construction and tunneling.
"Arunachal Pradesh is geographically and geologically completely different from rest of the country. Therefore, a tailor-made technology is needed for construction of roads and tunnels here. As Norway, with similar geological features, has one of the world’s best road infrastructure and world class tunnels, we can benefit from its technology," he said.
Dr Bhasin agreed with the chief minister and informed that Norway, despite being a small country, has about 7000 km of tunnels that shorten road distances eventually enhancing government revenue.
Dr Bhasin, who visited a few places in West Kameng, said the state has tremendous potential for development of infrastructure to make it one of the best tourism states in the country.
"I have worked for about a decade in Bhutan and I thought it was the ultimate. But visiting Arunachal Pradesh for the first time, I realised that I was wrong all the time. This is heaven," he said.
Representing the Norwegian embassy, senior advisor Dr Vivek Kumar said the embassy is ready to facilitate cooperation between Norwegian agencies and experts with the state government in sectors that matter.
The current project is also being technically supported by the Royal Norwegian Embassy through NGI.
The Centre for Earth Sciences & Himalayan Studies (an autonomous organization of state’s department of science & technology) has been interacting with NGI for technical assistance to perform feasibility studies for harnessing geothermal resources in the state.
The intention of the MoU is to provide a facilitating mechanism for the two parties to work together on mutually agreed, progressive and supportive activities; aiming for further development in the field of geo-techniques and rock engineering by dealing with complex sub-surface geological and geotechnical issues faced by the state.
To begin with, NGI will carry out geological, geochemical and geothermal investigation of few selected geothermal sites in Tawang and West Kameng districts that will include MT survey to decipher the deeper geo-electrical configuration of geothermal springs (hot-springs) and feasibility to utilize the geothermal energy resources for further use.