Rajasthan unveils largest solar plant in Asia, joins Gujarat as the states leading India’s clean energy growth

Clare Saxon Ghauri
22 August 2013

NEW DELHI: India’s solar sector continues to soar, as the state of Rajasthan unveils a new 55 megawatt solar farm, the largest single-location solar plant in Asia, and renewables growth continues in the state of Gujarat.

Solar power developer Welspun Energy has commissioned a US$77.72 million utility-scale solar plant in the Indian state of Rajasthan, with an operating capacity of 55 megawatts.

The solar plant is part of the first phase of the Indian Government’s National Solar Mission.

Farooq Abdullah, Union Minister for New and Renewable Energy, who inaugurated the project, said: “It gives immense joy to inaugurate a landmark project of such magnitude in the state of Rajasthan. The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy has aggressive growth plans to generate and illuminate every household in India through clean energy. Welspun Energy’s 55 (DC) MW project is a testament of the fact that we are certainly moving in the right direction.”

Clean energy jobs

Farooq Abdullah added: “The project has provided the locals with sustainable employment opportunities and has engaged with the neighborhood by bringing social emancipation through its various social initiatives. The industry acknowledges the company’s contribution to the nation through its technological innovation and best practices that led to the timely completion of this landmark project.”

During the solar farm’s inauguration, Farooq Abdullah announced there are also plans for a 4,000 megawatt solar thermal plant in the state, which is expected to be the largest of its kind in the world, and will be commissioned in phases. He remarked: “We have discussed the plant with the Rajasthan government and we aim to set up a solar thermal capacity near the Sambhar salt lake in Jaipur.”

Indian solar

The only other solar park in India is based in Gujarat, which will generate 500 megawatts when fully commissioned in 2014. Gujarat, the first Indian sub-national government member of The Climate Group, also recently announced plans to construct a 10 megawatt solar plant over its canals in the Narmada Valley to feed 16 million units of electricity a year back into the grid. 

Subaskar Sitsabeshan, Programme Analyst, The Climate Group, commented: “Continuously, we are reminded that the renewable energy potential of India remains untapped. Driven largely by an increasing demand for electricity access, and the widening gap between demand and supply, state governments are now focusing on solar power, which is an important but underutilized energy source in India.

“Due to its location, India is naturally endowed with rich solar energy source and has much higher average annual temperature than most of the countries that are currently leading in solar energy generation. With continued, favorable national and state level policies, India has the potential to leapfrog these countries to become a world leader in solar power generation, and we welcome the leadership from members of The Climate Group, like Gujarat, and can only hope that the other states follow in their footsteps.”

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By Clare Saxon

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