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India To Set Up Ultra Mega Solar Power Plant — 4,000 MW Capacity

solar panels

Solar Panels
Credit: Wayne National Forest | CC BY 2.0

The Indian government, in partnership with state-owned companies, is planning to set up the largest solar power plant in the world. The planned power project will have an installed capacity of 4,000 MW and will be located in the western state of Rajasthan.

The solar power project will be set up by a joint venture of five government-owned companies – BHEL, Powergrid Corporation, Solar Energy Corporation of India, Hindustan Salts, and Rajasthan Electronics & Instruments Limited. The first phase of the project will comprise of 1,000 MW and is expected to be commissioned in 2016. At 1,000 MW capacity the project will be about 10 times the largest solar power project currently under construction in India.

The capacity of 4,000 MW is very significant in the Indian context. Earlier this year a private utility, Tata Power, commissioned the first coal-fired Ultra Mega Power Plant (UMPP) of installed capacity 4,000 MW. Another three such projects of capacity 3,960 MW each are at various stages of construction.

Interestingly, all these projects are facing critical problems of fuel availability and, as a result, financial viability. These four UMPPs have been awarded to two companies – Tata Power and Reliance Power. These companies have filed petitions with the concerned authorities to allow them to increase the tariff of the electricity sold as they are struggling to access low-cost coal.

While the tariff at which the coal-fired UMPPs are expected to sell the electricity is considerably lower than the lowest tariff being offered by solar photovoltaic (PV) power project developers, the conventional power plants have several disadvantages apart from being environmentally unsustainable.

These power plants are almost completely dependent on imported fuel. Since these power plants have been built with a goal to generate electricity at a lower carbon intensity than other coal-based power plants, they cannot use Indian coal which have lower carbon content compared to imported coal.

Such large-scale renewable energy projects are essential for India’s long-term energy plans. Millions of people still lack access to electricity and India does not have much leeway in terms of greenhouse gas emissions as it is one of the largest emitters in the world.

Read other interesting news related to India’s solar power sector

 

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Written By

Mridul currently works as Head-News & Data at Climate Connect Limited, a market research and analytics firm in the renewable energy and carbon markets domain. He earned his Master’s in Technology degree from The Energy & Resources Institute in Renewable Energy Engineering and Management. He also has a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Engineering. Mridul has a keen interest in renewable energy sector in India and emerging carbon markets like China and Australia.

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