The world's largest photovoltaic plant inaugurated in India

With 2 GW of power, the Pavagada solar power plant outperforms Chinese competition and allows the government to test new forms of local contracts.

Shakti Sthala is today the largest photovoltaic system in the world.

China no longer has the world’s largest photovoltaic system. The title was “beaten” by the other major Asian competitor who has made solar energy one of the main axes of its energy development: India.

We are in Pavagada, in the southwestern state of Karnataka. The Minister of Energy inaugurated this gigantic 2 GW photovoltaic power plant. It’s an impressive project and not just in terms of capacity (more than 500 MW than the Chinese solar park in the Tengger Desert, the largest photovoltaic power plant in the world to date).

In its construction, 165 billion rupees, or roughly $ 2,530 million, was invested, activating a rental program unique in Indian history: instead of buying land – the project spans 5,261 hectares – the government signed a lease with local farmers in crisis in recent years due to severe water shortages. In 2017, precipitation fell by 37% in this state and climate change portends an even more difficult future.

Pavagada is one of the driest regions in the country. Over the past fifty years, more than 10,000 people have been forced to migrate each year to other parts of the country. “Under this project, farmers will be treated as partners and beneficiariesMinister Shivakumar said at the inauguration.

The 2,300 producers concerned will receive compensation of Rs 21,000 (approximately $ 322) per acre. In this scenario – explains Mudit Jain, consultant of Bridge to India – “the farmer will retain ownership of the land after the plant closes and the total cost will fragment over the years rather than being billed up front“.

The construction time is also surprising: the plant was conceived, designed and built in just three years. The work was entrusted to Karnataka Solar Power Development Corporation Limited, a joint venture between Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) and its compatriot KREDL. Obviously, the 2 GW of capacity was divided into eight batches of 250 MW each. Karnataka State, in just 4 years, has increased its total installed photovoltaic capacity from 14,000 MW to over 23,000 MW.

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