It took 8,500 men working two shifts every day for six months — and three shifts for two months — to finish, ahead of schedule, the Adani Group’s giant solar power plant in southern India.
The vast, 10 sq km project in Ramanathapuram, in the southern state of Tamil Nadu, is the world’s largest solar power station in a single location, according to the company.
It has the capacity to power 150,000 homes — and it is one sign of how serious India is becoming about meeting its renewable energy targets.
Considering the delays that commonly bog down infrastructure projects in India, the speed at which the 648 megawatt project was completed demonstrates the country’s commitment to renewables, said an analyst.
“The government is very clear about its solar plan, and large installations are key to this plan,” said Aruna Kumarankandath of the Centre for Science and Environment in Delhi.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi “is a real evangelist”, and has prioritised solar to meet the renewables target, she said.
As a signatory to the Paris Agreement on climate change, India is committed to ensuring that at least 40 percent of its electricity will be generated from non-fossil-fuel sources by 2030.
While coal still provides the lion’s share of India’s energy, officials forecast the country will meet its Paris Agreement renewable energy commitments three years early — and exceed them by nearly half.
A 10-year blueprint released last month predicts that 57 percent of total electricity capacity will come from non-fossil sources by 2027.
Solar energy is a particular focus. It makes up 16 percent of renewables capacity now, but will contribute 100 gigawatts of the renewable energy capacity target of 175 GW by 2022.
Of that 100 GW target, 60 percent will come from large solar installations. The government is planning 33 solar parks in 21 states, with a capacity of at least 500 megawatts each.
India’s ambitious targets come at a time when renewable energy is at a turning point in the country, as generating electricity from renewables costs nearly the same as from conventional sources.
The urgency also aims to fill a gap: India is among the world’s fastest growing economies, yet one-third of its households have no access to grid power.
The renewables goal will help ensure “uninterrupted supply of quality power to existing consumers and provide electricity access to all unconnected consumers by 2019”, according to the blueprint.
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