World’s Largest Solar Power Project Planned
Gujarat, a state of India, is quite eager to opt for alternative sources of energy. It started out as a small dream. The Gujarat government visualized only 500 MW of solar power generation by 2014. But this humble goal may now be increased to 3,000 MW. The Gujarat Government is undertaking a $10 billion project and it will hold the distinction of the world’s largest solar power facility in India. This project will be backed by former U.S. President Bill Clinton. The 3,000oMW project will get aid with logistics and financial support from the William J Clinton Foundation. This foundation is a charitable organization founded by the former President. The foundation and the Gujarat government signed a preliminary agreement on Sept. 8, 2009.
Recently a memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed by Mr S. Jagadeesan, Principal Secretary, State Energy Department, and Mr Ira Magaziner, Chairman of the Clinton Climate Initiative (CCI). Jagdeesan stated, “The Clinton Foundation will help us in bringing manufacturers and power generators and also in providing access to international funding at cost-effective interest rates. They are facilitators. We will invest in the infrastructure.” The project would be allotted a 10,000 hectares of land spread across three locations within an area of 150 square kilometers (58 square miles) in Gujarat.
The Clinton Climate Initiative which is a part of the foundation will assist in identifying producers of solar thermal equipment. Jagdeesan said, the manufacturers will be selected in three to four months. The Gujarat government will establish the solar parks in special economic zones. They will focus on in developing manufacturing facilities close to the generation site to reduce costs.
The project would be completed in the time span of five years. Gujarat Government along with CCI will try to arrange cheap funds from multilateral agencies such as the Asian Development Bank. The state government will also try to incorporate hybrid plants in the project that use both solar energy and natural gas to generate power.
“When there is sunshine we’ll generate using solar and when the sun is not shining we’ll generate using natural gas,” Jagdeesan said. “Gas is available to us in Gujarat. We will provide gas connectivity.”
The proposed solar energy park will cover an area of around 5,000 hectares. The solar site will be in the cities of Banaskantha, Patan, Surendranagar and Kutch. This area is mostly an infertile desert land and an ideal site for harnessing solar energy.
In January, the State Government had announced a solar energy policy to harness the potential of the inexhaustible source, and has allotted a capacity of over 700 MW to 34 national and international developers for setting up solar power plants in the State.
According to the MoU signed with the CCI, the State Government would look after identification of land and provide the infrastructure for setting up the solar power plants. It would request national and international developers to set up these plants on chargeable basis for the infrastructure created. The power created by these installations would be purchased by the State power utilities.
The projected 3,000-plus MW solar power installations would produce over 5,200 million units of energy. They will naturally help in reducing carbon-dioxide emission to the extent of 5.2 million tonnes per year. This project is also expected to generate employment opportunities for over 20,000 people.