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The country of India continues to develop some of the largest solar parks in the world
The Kamuthi Solar Power Project in Tamil Nadu, India occupies 2,500 acres, with 2.5 individual solar panels. Kamuthi was one of the largest photovoltaic (PV) plants in the world when it was first built in 2016. Larger solar parks have been established since Kamuthi, however, Kamuthi is notable for making India a giant in the market of large global solar PV parks.
[The Bhadla Solar Park in the Bhadla village in Jodhpur district of Rajasthan, India is currently the world’s largest solar park. However, China is developing an even larger solar park than Bhadla (the Golmud Desert Solar Park). Please see Green City Times' article on Bhadla here for more on Bhadla, Golmud, and the largest solar parks in India and China today, as well as throughout the world.
At the time that this original Green City Times article was 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 Bhadla.]
Kamuthi Solar Power Project
The Kamuthi Solar Power Project is a 648 MW (nameplate capacity) solar PV farm in Tamil Nadu, India. It initially cost US $710 million and became operational in 2016. As a result of the completion of Kamuthi, India became number three in the world for utility-scale solar PV parks, behind only the United States and China. To reach the third spot, India had to leapfrog the United Kingdom, and this solar farm gave them just enough edge.
The Kamuthi Solar Power Project occupies 2,500 acres and can supply energy for about 150,000 homes in Tamil Nadu. This plant was built and funded by Adani power, a company that was founded in 1996 as an energy trading company, and is now India's largest private energy company. In 2011.
Adani became the largest 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); but like India as a whole, Adani has been turning more and more to renewable energy investments. This huge solar energy plant- Kamuthi - was Adani’s first venture into massive solar projects.
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. Topaz is an only slightly smaller-sized plant than Kamuthi, located in the Mojave desert. Kamuthi features over 2.5 million individual solar PV modules, with cleaning robots built into the top of modules.
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. The Kamuthi plant, by comparison, has a capacity of 648 megawatts. Both the Kamuthi and Topaz solar farms have since been eclipsed in size by even bigger solar parks, most significantly in India and in China, with some of the largest solar PV parks located elsewhere in the world).
Where are Some of the World's Largest Solar Parks Today?
China and India stand as world leaders in the production of large solar farms, but other countries (the US, UAE, and Egypt to name a few) also have significant large solar projects. The following list has some of the largest PV parks in the world (in an ever-changing global solar market):
The 15 Largest Solar Farms in the World in 2021
Below you will find a list of the fifteen biggest solar farms on the planet. This list is accurate as of the date of publication, but may have changed since—solar is a rapidly growing industry after all!
[note: both Bhadla and Golmud, among many other solar park projects listed below have substantially expanded post publication of this article and this list.]
#1. Bhadla Solar Park, India - 2,245 MW (has expanded substantially)
...across 14,000 acres, Bhadla Solar Park in India is the largest solar farm in the world to date. Located in the village of Bhadla in the Jodhpur District of Rajasthan, this project is the #1 solar farm in the world, just edging out our #2 for top spot.
Bhadla Solar Park, India
#2. Huanghe Hydropower Hainan Solar Park, China (also known as the Golmud Solar Park) - 2,200 MW (also has expanded substantially)
This 2.2 GW solar farm in the Qinghai Province of China, developed by state-owned utility company Huanghe Hydropower Development, went online in September 2020. Long term, the plan is for this project’s capacity to reach a staggering 16 GW. The plant also includes 202.8 MW/MWh of storage capacity.
#3. Pavagada Solar Park, India - 2,050 MW
Also known as the Shakti Sthala Solar Power Project, the Pavagada Solar Park in Karnataka is the second-largest solar power farm in India, and the third largest in the world. Comprising 2,050 MW across 13,000+ acres of land, the project was developed by the Karnataka Solar Park Development Corporation Limited (KSPDCL) and the National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC).
#4. Benban Solar Park, Egypt - 1,650 MW
Located in Benban, about 650 kilometers south of Cairo, the Benban Solar Park is Africa’s largest solar farm and the fourth largest in the world overall. The 1.65 GW project, owned by the New and Renewable Energy Authority (NREA), was completed in November 2019 at a cost of $4 billion.
#5. Tengger Desert Solar Park, China - 1,547 MW
China’s second entry on this list, the Tengger Desert Solar Park is located in Ningxia. The 1.55 GW solar farm occupies 1,200 km of the 36,700 km Tengger Desert. The project, owned by China National Grid and Zhongwei Power Supply Company, went online in 2017 and now supplies solar energy for over 600,000 homes.
Tengger Desert Solar Park, China
#6. Noor Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates - 1,177 MW
This 1.2 GW solar farm in the United Arab Emirates began commercial operations in June 2019. The project will offset carbon emissions by 1 million metric tons—the equivalent of removing 200,000 cars from the roads. Comprising 3.2 million solar panels across 8 square kilometers, Noor Abu Dhabi is one of the world’s largest solar farms.
#7. Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park, United Arab Emirates - 1,013 MW
Currently coming in at #7, Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park in the United Arab Emirates could climb up this list in the future, with a planned capacity of 5 GW by the end of the decade. With its huge clean energy output, estimates suggest that the park will cut carbon emissions by roughly 6.5 million tons each year. In addition to the solar farm, the project site also houses a Research & Development Center.
#8. Kurnool Ultra Mega Solar Park, India - 1,000 MW
This 1 GW capacity solar farm occupies 24 square kilometers in Panyam Mandal, Kurnool District, Andhra Pradesh. Funding for this project came from Central and State governments, as well as solar developers. Total investment for the construction of the solar park came to around $980 million dollars.
#9. Datong Solar Power Top Runner Base, China - 1,000 MW
The Datong Solar Power Top Runner Base is a work in progress, but it’s already one of the biggest solar farms in the world in terms of capacity—clocking in at an impressive 1.07 GW so far. An additional 600 MW is currently under construction and the long-term plan is for the total capacity to hit 3 GW.
#10. NP Kunta, India - 978 MW
Another Indian entry on the list of the biggest solar farms in the world, the NP Kunta Ultra Mega Solar Park has a capacity of 978 MW across an area of 32 square kilometers. Like many other solar farms on this list, the project is ongoing, with further capacity expansion planned for the future. In the case of NP Kunta, the total planned capacity is 1,500 MW.
#11. Longyangxia Dam Solar Park, China - 850 MW
China is represented again on our list with the Longyangxia Dam Solar Park offering an impressive 850 MW capacity. Construction of the park was completed in a number of phases, beginning with 320 MW back in 2013. This solar farm works in conjunction with the hydroelectric power station located at the same site.
#12. Villanueva Solar Park, Mexico - 828 MW
Mexico’s sole entry on this list is certainly an impressive one. The Vilannuela Solar Park in Villa Hidalgo, in the northwestern state of Coahuila, has a total capacity of 828 MW. This solar farm, which cost $710 million, was completed by Enel Green Power México—the Mexican unit of Italian company, Enel Green Power.
#13. Copper Mountain Solar Facility, United States - 802 MW
Of course, the United States also features on this list of the largest solar farms in the world. The Copper Mountain Solar Facility in Boulder City, Nevada, was developed by Sempra Generation and first entered service in December 2010, becoming the biggest solar PV plant in the U.S. at 58 MW. Following the completion of Copper Mountain V in March 2021, it once again took the title of the biggest solar farm in the country—coming in at 802 MW.
Copper Mountain Solar Facility, United States
#14. Mount Signal Solar, United States - 794 MW
Coming in just behind its compatriot, the Mount Signal Solar plant (a.k.a. The Imperial Valley Solar Project) is the second largest solar facility in the United States at 794 MW capacity. The project is located to the west of Calexico, California, in the southern Imperial Valley, and, like many other projects listed here, there are plans for further expansion of the plant’s capacity in the near future.
#15. Rewa Ultra Mega Solar, India - 750 MW
Rounding out our list is another entry from India—Rewa Ultra Mega Solar. This solar power plant is spread across 1,590 acres in the Gurh Tehsil of Rewa District of Madhya Pradesh, with a total capacity of 750 MW. The project was developed by Rewa Ultra Mega Solar Limited (RUMSL), a joint venture between the Madhya Pradesh Urja Vikash Nigam Limited (MPUVNL) and the Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI).
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's ambitious plan is to install 100 GW of solar across the entire country 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 in the same country - 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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