World’s Largest Solar Plant at a single location in Kamuthi [Tamil Nadu; India] (privately owned by Adani Power) has successfully been commissioned. With this commissioning, India is expected to become the world’s 3rd biggest solar market after China and the US from next year and the new plant has pushed its total installed solar capacity to cross the 10 GW mark, an achievement that only a few countries can claim.
India has set a massive target of powering 60 million homes by solar energy by 2022 as part of the Government’s 2030 goal to produce 40% of its power from non-fossil fuels.
World’s Largest Solar Plant | Features of Kamuthi Solar Plant:
- Spread over an area of 10 square kilometres.
- The plant has about 2.5 million individual solar modules.
- Capacity of 648 MW.
- Built at a cost of over Rs. 4500 crores.
- At its full capacity, the Kamuthi solar power plant is estimated to produce enough electricity to power about 150,000 homes in the area.
Kamuthi is situated in the region which receives a large amount of solar radiation for a longer duration because it is near the Equator and rainy days are also less compared to other states.
World’s Largest Solar Plant | Solar Energy
- Around two gigawatt (GW) of solar projects were commissioned during the past financial year translating into $0.2 billion worth of investment. Total wind power projects commissioned were 3.6 GW, the highest in the past two financial years totalling an investment of $2.1 billion.
- It can be expected that six GW could be installed during the current calendar year and around 10 GW in 2017 due to the excellent Government policies.
- International private equity investors poured $1.5 billion in RE companies in India in 2015.
- If all goes right and India issues solar power project tenders worth 10 GW, it would be on the way to become the fourth largest solar power market. India is likely to cross the Japan’s growth in solar by 2018. “After the US, China and Japan, India’s solar market size would be that of the UK and Germany put together in the next two years.
- According to industry estimates, last year, 35 solar power project tenders were issued with a cumulative capacity of 15.5 GW. On a rough calculation, it comes out to be $11 billion of expected investment in the next 18 months, which is the commissioning time for solar power project.
World’s Largest Solar Plant | Falling prices
- Last year was also the first time that tariffs went below Rs 5 a unit and still continue to be. While the Indian government has maintained that Rs 5.5 a unit is the relevant tariff, some foreign players and recently Indian ones as well have quoted half and even less of Rs 4.43 a unit.
- After 2014, we have seen a decline of five per cent in panel prices. The average market price of panel is 46 cents per unit, at present. In 2015, the price was 50 cents. In 2012, it was more than $1 a unit. Most of this decline happened due to excess capacity in China where we are seeing consolidation and bankruptcies in major Chinese companies.
World’s Largest Solar Plant | India’s solar power potential?
- The major chunk of the budget goes in acquiring land. This can be used by using the already available land under the Government efficiently as seen in the state of Gujarat.
- We shall also attach the ‘SMART Cities’ and ‘RURBAN Mission’ with the standards of solar power. A new beginning can be made where the local administration may make it mandatory for households above a specified threshold to mandatorily consume their energy requirements through solar energy.
- Getting the technology from the developed countries under the technology transfer agreement. The budget overshoot can be managed from taking loans from AIIB or the World Bank.
- India should also take a lead in materialising the success of the ‘International Solar Alliance’ which would help in sharing of effective technology and allocation of funds required for the sustenance of the solar technology.
- Encouraging the Big IT parks and industries to become self-sufficient for their energy needs by using renewable sources of power generation and giving them tax incentives or the same. Example – Infosys.
- Encouraging more private investment in solar energy sector is also required. It is beneficial for the businesses too in context of the emergence of solar market and avenues of growth in this sector.
World’s Largest Solar Plant | Conclusion
Solar power is not the panacea for India’s energy needs. Solar power also has its own share of issues in terms of its effect on overall grid stability, more so in the case of India, where the grid does not have buffer capacities like in the West. However, while plans are being drawn to scale up solar power, equal attention is also being provided to improve transmission corridors and grid management systems through increased investments and budgetary allocations to states to strengthen the network and deploy smart grid framework. To exploit its potential, India’s policy makers must re-craft their solar strategies. Costs must be pruned, and India’s inherent natural advantage of sunlight must be harnessed more judiciously.