Every few years (or months), we come across another headline announcing a new “world’s largest solar PV farm.”
- Sometimes, this news comes out of California – as was the case with the Solar Star facility and the Desert Sunlight plant.
- Other times, bragging rights go to countries like China and its $2.3 billion solar installation.
Well, we just came across a new headline that claims India now holds the title for world’s largest solar PV farm. And thanks to this massive achievement, the country has finally crossed the 10 GW solar capacity market – a distinction held by only a handful of other countries around the globe.
Let’s take a look
The Newest World’s Largest Solar PV Farm
The Kamuthi Solar Power Project in Tamil Nadu is a massive 648 MW installation that covers roughly 10 km².
It’s really difficult to appreciate the scale of this massive complex. But when operating at full capacity, the Kamuthi Solar Power Project can generate enough clean electricity to power the equivalent of 150,000 homes.
That alone is impressive.
But on top of that, the installation took only 8 months to build, which is amazing. And it cost roughly $680 million to finance, which is surprising given that the Kamuthi Solar Power Project boasts a staggering 2.5 million PV panels.
Are Large Solar PV Farms Always a Good Thing?
As a general rule, we don’t really like mega solar projects. Large installations often disrupt local wildlife, which dramatically diminishes the environmental benefits of this clean power technology.
This is why we typically encourage rooftop solar – or PV installations on previously developed land. In a state like California, covering these types of surfaces with solar panels would help our state generate more than enough clean electricity. In fact, we could generate 5 times the power that we actually need.
But India faces unique challenges that make large-scale solar a very attractive option. It has a booming population and a quickly growing economy. As a result, the country must bring on as much electricity capacity as possible – as quickly as possible. And large-scale solar represents one of the cheapest ways to do that.
Moreover, India has already started to feel the effects of climate change. It has plenty of threatened coastlines, not to mention vast tracts of desert areas that were once filled with lush vegetation. So the country is also incentivized to reduce its carbon footprint as much as possible. Again, large-scale solar represents India’s best option.
So while we would prefer that every nation around the world uses rooftop solar, we understand why India continues to invest in mega PV farms. Thanks to projects like this, the country is on track to become the planet’s third-largest solar market – following China and the United States. And within the next 6 years, India plans on generating enough solar electricity to power 60 million homes.