Economy

Five of the world’s top 10 solar parks are coming up in India, says report

M Ramesh Chennai | Updated on May 22, 2018 Published on May 22, 2018

Five out of the world’s biggest under-construction solar parks, designed to accommodate total solar power capacity of 7,475 MW, are in India. When one of them — Bhadla Industrial Solar Park, in Rajasthan — houses solar plants to its fullest capacity (2,225 MW), it will be the world’s biggest.

When it comes to operating solar plants, India has two of the world’s top ten, says a report on emerging solar trends produced by the US-based Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA), a research body backed by a bunch of philanthropic organisations including the Rockfeller Brothers Fund and the Rockfeller Family Fund. These two are the 1,000-MW ultra mega project in Kurnool, Andhra Pradesh and the Adani group’s 648-MW Kamuthi project in Tamil Nadu.

India has made rapid strides in installation of solar power capacity. In the calendar year 2017, India contributed 8 GW to the 98 GW global addition of solar capacity, or 8.1 per cent. (Incidentally, China contributed 53 GW.) As of end March 2018, India had 21,651 MW of solar plants, thanks to 9009.81 MW set up in the financial year 2017-18 alone.

Some distinctions

The world’s biggest single rooftop solar plant happens to be in India. The 19-MW Dera Baba rooftop solar project in Amritsar, Punjab, has been installed on the 82-acre campus of the RSSB Educational and Environmental Society, says the IEEFA report. However, India is likely to lose this distinction to the US, where Tesla is building a 70-MW rooftop solar plant on its ‘Gigafactory’ in Reno, Nevada.

As the IEEFA report notes, India’s name also figures in the list of top ‘corporate PPAs’ — instances when companies directly buy solar power from developers. The Airports Authority of India plans to buy power from 200 MW of solar plants. India’s Kochi airport, with 40 MW, is the world’s first airport to be fully powered by solar energy.

If things work out as per plan, India could also emerge as one of the leaders in floating solar plants. JSW Energy has announced plans to scale up its 4-MW floating solar plant to 250 MW that would come up across several reservoirs the company owns. In March, the government of India-owned SECI tendered out a 100-MW solar plant to be put up on the reservoir of Rihand Dam in Uttar Pradesh. In the following month, SECI raised the proposed capacity to 150 MW.

But India draws a blank in ‘concentrated solar power’ and also fares poorly in storage and solar manufacturing capacity, the IEEFA report shows.

Published on May 22, 2018
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