When this solar power plant will work to its full capacity, it will account for nearly 10 per cent of India’s installed solar capacity
The Kamuthi solar power park is a part of the Centre's plan to build 25 large-scale solar parks over five years Credit: Activ Solar / Flicker
Questions were raised in the past as to whether we should invest in large and expensive solar power plants that will feed electricity into a leaking grid, especially when the transmission and distribution loss in India has been higher than global average. Over the past few years, India made efficiency upgrades to its transmission grid to reduce the losses. Still, almost 20 per cent of the total generation, which is more than twice the world average, doesn’t reach intended customers.
Now that the India’s largest solar power park has become operational in Tamil Nadu, let’s have a look at the scale of the project and its performance so far.
- Gujarat-based Adani group had signed a MoU with the Tamil Nadu government to set up the largest solar photovoltaic plant in India at a cost of Rs 4,536 crore in Ramanathapuram district.
- Although a solar plant of 1,000 MW was proposed, the capacity was later downgraded to 648 MW as a single large tract of land was not available for the project.
- About 4,000 acres of land was acquired on lease and only barren lands were acquired from individuals. No government land was given for setting up the plant.
- When this solar power plant will work to its full capacity, it will account for nearly 10 per cent of India’s installed solar capacity of around seven gigawatts (GW). It is likely to produce enough power for around 150,000 local households each year.
- On June 13, the power plant became operational after five substations successfully connected 360 MW of power to the national grid.
- Even at 360 MW, the output of the solar park is higher than India’s first solar power park located in Charanka district of Gujarat. The current capacity of Charanka power plant is 345 MW.
- The Adani Group had come under criticism for selling solar power to Tamil Nadu government at a much higher rate (Rs 7.01/kWh) than national average (Rs 4.70/kWh).
- Tamil Nadu government also faced flak for fixing such a high tariff in September 2014 and sticking to the same tariff despite a visible fall in price in other states.
- This solar plant, which is a part of Indian government’s plan to build 25 large-scale solar parks between 500 MW and 1,000 MW over five years, will sell solar power to the state government for 25 years. That indicates a huge loss to the state exchequer.
- In February 2016, a fire broke out at the solar power plant damaging four solar panels. The fire had broken out when power was being fed into the local grid on a trial basis.
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