What are the World's Largest Solar Projects?
Featuring over 2.5 million individual solar PV modules, and on 2,500 acres, the Kamuthi Solar Power Project supplies energy to ~300,000 homes. The Kamuthi Solar Power Project is a 648 MW solar photovoltaic (PV) farm in Tamil Nadu, India, in the town of Kamuthi, in the Ramanathapuram district.
When it was first built and became operational (in 2016), Kamuthi was the single largest solar project globally, however, as you will see in this article, there are actually a few larger solar projects in India, China, and elsewhere worldwide today.
The Bhadla Solar Park in the Bhadla village in Jodhpur district of Rajasthan, India is currently India's largest solar park. However, China is developing an even larger solar park than Bhadla (the Golmud Desert Solar Park).
[At the time that this original Green City Times article was originally published, Kamuthi was the single largest solar PV project in the world, but since then, many larger PV projects have come online. To see a list of the largest solar plants in the world as of the end of 2021, please see the article on the Bhadla Solar Park.]
A lone solar worker strides along PV panels of Kamuthi Solar Power Project>>>
Crown Jewel of Tamil Nadu
Kamuthi cost US $710 million, and became operational in 2016. As a result, India became the #3 country in the world for operational utility-scale solar PV parks, behind only China and the United States. To reach the third spot, India had to leapfrog the United Kingdom, and this solar farm gave them just enough edge.
Tamil Nadu, home to the Kamuthi Solar Plant, is a relatively large state in India at the South-east tip of India, and the capital is Chennai. Known as the most urbanized state in India, Tamil Nadu is industrialized and produces a significant quantity of manufacturing. However, the Kamuthi Solar Plant remains the crown jewel of Tamil Nadu.
Adani ventures into solar energy with Kamuthi
Kamuthi was built and funded by Adani power, a company that was founded in 1996 as an energy trading company; and since became India's largest private energy company. In 2011, Adani became the largest private thermal power generating company in India.
Adani took their first step into power generation with a massive coal power project in Mundra (built in 4+ stages between 2009-2012). This huge solar energy plant - Kamuthi - was Adani’s first venture into massive solar projects; and as Adani begins to look beyond coal, into sustainable energy, so too does the whole country of India seek a greener energy future.
How Long Did it Take to Build Kamuthi?
The Kamuthi Solar Power Project is a massive structure, however, it was built in only eight months. This feat was accomplished through the dedication of 8,500 team members, who worked 24 hours a day to complete the project. Perhaps as a result of the quick and efficient build, this project cost significantly less than the Topaz Solar Plant, an only slightly smaller sized plant than Kamuthi, but still a relatively large solar plant, in the Mojave desert.
Who Had the World's Largest Solar Farm Prior to Kamuthi?
The record for the world's largest individual solar PV farm prior to Kamuthi belonged to the Topaz Solar Plant in California, which has a total capacity of 550 megawatts, took 2 years to build, and cost $2.5 billion. The Kamuthi plant, by comparison, has a capacity of 648 megawatts. Kamuthi took ~1/3 less time to develop than Topaz, at ~1/3 the price. However, both of these solar plants have since been surpassed by subsequent developments of even larger solar PV parks; in India, China, and other parts of the world.
Both the Kamuthi and Topaz solar farms have been eclipsed in size by even bigger solar parks, again mostly in India (although some of the largest solar PV parks are elsewhere in the world; most substantially in China). China, the US, and India, stand as world leaders in the production of large solar farms, but other countries also have significant large solar projects.
Even larger than Kamuthi, is the Longyangxia Dam Solar Park in China, at 850 MW, which went operational in February 2017. And bigger still, is the 1GW Yanchi Ningxia solar park located in Ningxia, China, The 1 GW Kurnool Ultra Mega Solar Park in the south Indian province of Andhra Pradesh became fully operational in July 2017.
The Noor solar plant in Abu Dhabi has a capacity of over 1 GW and was fully functional as of June 2019. Tengger Desert Solar Park takes up over 10,000 acres in China’s northwestern Ningxia province and has a total capacity of 1,547 MW. India has a couple of solar PV parks that have around 2 GW of capacity: Bhadla Solar Park and Pavagada Solar Park. Read more about the>>> the 2 GW Pavagada Solar Park in Karnataka’s Tumakuru district.
The following list has some of the largest PV parks in the world [note: this list was generated before solar parks like Noor, Bhadla, and Pavagada, were completed]:
- Tengger Desert Solar Park, China – 1,547MW
- Sweihan Photovoltaic Independent Power Project, UAE – 1,177MW
- Yanchi Ningxia Solar Park, China – 1,000MW
- Datong Solar Power Top Runner Base, China – 1,070MW
- Kurnool Ultra Mega Solar Park, India – 1,000MW
- Longyangxia Dam Solar Park, China – 850MW
- Enel Villanueva PV Plant, Mexico – 828MW
- Kamuthi Solar Power Station, India – 648MW
- Solar Star Projects, US – 579MW
- Topaz Solar Farm / Desert Sunlight Solar Farm, US – 550MW FROM: power-technology.com/features/the-worlds-biggest-solar-power-plants
How Green is India?
India was the first country worldwide to set up an official government department of non-traditional energy resources, India's Ministry of New and Renewable Energy. India has been working towards more sustainable energy sources since the 1980s.
The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, whose mission statement is to “increase the share of clean power, increase the availability of energy and improve its access, improve energy affordability, and maximize energy equity", plans for India to generate 40% of the country’s electricity from renewable resources by 2030. Renewable energy currently accounts for over 1/3 of electrical generation in India, and well over 1/3 of energy production capacity in the country. India has a goal of powering over 60 million Indian homes with solar energy by 2022.
What Plans Does India Have for More Solar Plants?
India will soon have developed the world’s newest, largest solar power parks with other ultra-high capacity solar power parks - Pavagada and Bhadla Solar Parks. India is developing approximately 25 more large solar parks, with capacities around, or over, 1 GW; and now even two 2+GW solar parks (the Bhadla Solar Park, and the Pavagada Solar Park). India is also focusing on bringing clean electricity to remote villages and is taking on many other environmental sustainability initiatives.
India, along with China, is continuing to work on environmental sustainability measures like solar farms and other renewable energy projects as part of the transition these countries are in the process of making; from coal-based energy generation to supply a large share of these countries' electricity needs, to renewable energy like solar power. Newly developed large solar farms in India, and throughout Asia and the Middle East, will have a substantial, positive impact on the environmental health of the planet.
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