World’s Largest Solar Park Opened in India

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A sea of solar panels capture the unyielding glare of the sun at the newly built Gujarat Solar Park located in Charanka, Gujarat state, India. Photo - Ajit Solanki/AP

India is now home to the world’s largest solar park.

China’s 200 megawatt Golmud Solar Park previously held the record of the world’s largest solar park.

The 214MW capacity photovoltaic solar park was completed at the cost of $2.3 billion. Currently, the largest single location plant in the world, it is spread over 3,000 acres of mainly wasteland located in India’s western state of Gujarat. The solar power park will continue to expand to a 500MW system, when fully completed by the end of 2014.

The project has boosted India’s renewable energy ambitions, which aims to utilise solar power to account for 3% of national capacity, or 1,000MW by 2013.

India’s objective is to increase renewable energy production, currently at 6%, to at least 15% of the total capacity by 2020.

Gujarat leading solar initiatives

Gujarat, one of the most industrialised state in the country, has come up with comprehensive plans on its renewable energy ambitions, especially solar. The state expects to create 30,000 new jobs in solar energy sector. It is also planning to launch a rooftop solar power plant policy, where people are encouraged to produce their own electricity and earn money by selling the surplus power to the state grid. The aim is to make people self-reliant in power generation.

Residents could also make additional income by renting their rooftops for solar power generation, which the state hopes, will further enhance their income levels.

When fully completed by the end of 2014, the Gujarat Solar Park is expected to generate two thirds of India’s total 900MW solar power production.

The state government plans to develop other such projects in towns like Anand, Banaskantha, Jamnangar, Junagadh, Kutch, Porbandar, Rajkot, Surat and Surendranagar within Gujarat.

Other worldwide solar initiatives

Tunisia has announced the biggest solar power plant project so far. TuNur, a joint-venture company between NurEnergie, a solar power plant developer based in England, and a collection of Tunisian investors, will have a total capacity of a whopping 2,000 MegaWatt, dwarfing both the Gujarat Solar Park and China’s Golmud Solar Park.

TuNur is set to be operational by 2016 and is expected to be a major energy supplier to Europe, powering some 700,000 European households.

There are several other major solar power initiatives in the Middle East. Saudi Arabia has built the largest solar power plant in the Middle East to power an entire educational campus in the capital Riyadh. Saudi Electric, the utility arm of the Kingdom, has installed solar panels on Farasan Island and plans to connect to the grid in the following month.

The $600 million Shams 1 solar power plant project in Abu Dhabi is in its completion stages and will be ready by the end of this year. Siemens and Masdar Institute of Science and Technology have partnered in solar technology research and development to enhance the use of photovoltaic (PV) panels in the Middle East region.

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