India’s prime minister announced an ambitious solar plan not long ago that aimed at expanding the country’s solar capacity to 20 gigawatts by 2020 from its then 3 gigawatts. Worldwide solar capacity at the time of the plan’s introduction was only 16.5 GW, so many were unsure if the country could actually meet its goal. The naysayers can be put in their place now. The Indian State of Tamil Nadu has been unveiled as the home of an absolutely massive solar array – the largest in the world.
The gargantuan 648-megawatt array is spread across 2,500 acres in the town of Kamuthi in the Ramanathapuram district and will supply clean energy to 300,000 homes.
The solar plant is being run by the Indian company, Adani Green Energy Ltd, but it was a truly international effort to construct. The Deccan Chronicle reported that the $679 million solar park consists of 380,000 foundations, 2.5 million solar modules, 576 inverters, 154 transformers and 6,000-kilometers of cables. The plant’s parts and machinery are from all over the world.
Perhaps even more impressive than the solar plant’s size is the speed in which is was built. With the dedication of an around-the-clock, 8,500 member team, roughly 11 megawatts were installed daily until the whole array was completed in just eight months. The company charged with overseeing the array’s construction also faced historic monsoons while trying to build the solar plant.
Adani Group chairman, Gautam Adani formally dedicated the structure to the nation:
“This is a momentous occasion for the state of Tamil Nadu as well as the entire country,” he said. “We are extremely happy to dedicate this plant to the nation; a plant of this magnitude reinstates the country’s ambitions of becoming one of the leading green energy producers in the world.”
The creation of the world’s largest solar plant puts India in the ranks of the top three solar-creating nations in the world. China and the U.S. will be its only competitors. China added more than 15 gigawatts of new solar capacity in 2015 surpassing Germany as the world’s largest solar power market.
In the U.S., the price for utility-scale solar farms has become so cheap that even some non-utility companies are joining in, including Apple, who is buying tons of solar to power its operations, stores, and data centers. And Elon Musk of Tesla recently announced that putting solar roofs on homes would be more economical than a traditional roof.
The world’s largest solar array will also help the country deal with growing concerns of air pollution, which recently reached critical levels in New Delhi. By 2020, India will surely be able to power more than 60 million homes with the sun. That’s a beautiful goal to realize.