Wednesday, February 18, 2015

India Starts Building World’s Largest Solar Plant, Overtaking U.S.

Solar pnels (Credit: Flickr/Ammusk)  Click to Enlarge.
India is about to start construction on what will be the world’s largest solar plant.  As part of a redoubled effort to ramp up renewable energy capacity to help meet the developing country’s fast-growing energy needs, the 750-megawatt solar plant in Madhya Pradesh will be inaugurated on August 15, 2016 — India’s Independence Day.  The plant will be significantly larger than the world-leading solar farms in California, including the recently-commissioned Desert Sunlight Solar Farm.

India is planning to install at least 100 gigawatts of solar power by 2022 — a goal that solar power giant China only plans on beating by two years.  Both countries are confronting energy crises as coal-fired power plants spread debilitating air pollution throughout fast-growing urban centers.  The situation is in many ways more acute in India.  More than 300 million Indians do not have access to electricity, and by 2017, it is predicted India will outpace China in economic growth.

A recent World Health Organization report found that India has 13 of the 20 most polluted cities in the world with the capital, Delhi, being the most polluted of all.  The WHO report found that Delhi had six times the level of airborne particulate matter considered safe, but a recent on-the-ground investigation found that the levels could be up to eight times higher in heavily trafficked corridors.

Fortunately, solar power is essentially emissions-free, and 750 megawatts is a lot of power.  It is close to the total amount of solar power capacity that sun-drenched Australia installed in all of 2014.  It is also 200 megawatts more than the recently-commissioned Desert Sunlight Solar Farm in California, one of the world’s largest solar plants and one of several major utility-scale solar farms in inland California.  At 550 megawatts it is capable of providing power to more than 160,000 average California homes.

With an average Indian household using only around one-thirteenth of the power required by an average American home, the 750-megawatt project, which will be on 90 percent government-owned land, could bring power to some two million households.

“We have always spoken of energy in terms of megawatt,” said said Prime Minister Narendra Modi of the country’s solar goals at the global RE-Invest conference this weekend in India.  “It is the first time we’re talking of gigawatt.  We have no option but to make a quantum leap in energy production and connectivity.”

Read more at India Starts Building World’s Largest Solar Plant, Overtaking U.S.

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