The government of the southern Indian state of Karnataka has announced plans to build a 5GW solar farm in the town of Pavagada.
The state’s Ministry of New and Renewable Energy has suggested that the project will eventually have a peak generating capacity of 5GW, however the plans it has published so far stop at 2GW of photovoltaic arrays over an area of five square kilometres.
Energy minister DK Shivakumar told reporters that the plant was tipped to become the largest in the world.
He said: "We have already acquired 1,200 acres of land for setting up the plant and the work will start soon. Once it is commissioned, the power problem being faced by the state will be eased to a great extent," he said.
Farmers have agreed to 25-35-year leases for the land at a price of $300 per acre per year. According to the World Bank, more than 2,000 have been signing leases for around 10,000 acres, or 40 square kilometres, of land.
The park will be developed by the National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC), India’s largest energy utility, and the Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI).
The farm will be split into 50MW lots and auctioned to investors, a process that has already begun. NTPC has auctioned 500MW to six developers. Four of them, Adani Power, Tata Power Renewable Energy and Fortum India, secured 100MW each each at a tariff of $79/MWh.
Five energy utilities in Karnataka have already signed an agreement with SECI to buy electricity from 1GW of the park’s capacity at $60.7/MWh for a period of 25 years.
Pavagada is the largest of some 24 solar parks with a cumulative capacity of about 20GW approved by Karnataka’s energy ministry. The state presently has 4GW of renewable capacity.
Completion of the first 2GW of Pavagada is scheduled for 2021.
Image: Villagers in Pavagada have agreed to lease land for the solar farm (Amit Jain/World Bank)