In just over a year’s time, the west Indian state of Rajasthan will have an installed solar power capacity of 7 gigawatts, government officials have said. The feat, if achieved, will be substantial, as only a handful of countries today have a solar power capacity of 7 gigawatts or more.
Rajasthan is a pioneer in solar power development in India. The state is dominated by the That Desert which offers large swaths of wasteland. The state also has some of the best locations in India in terms of solar radiation.
While Rajasthan did lose some ground to neighboring Gujarat and some southern states like Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, and Telangana in the pace of solar power capacity addition, it is set to reverse that trend now.
By March of 2019, the state is expected to have 1,755 megawatts of solar power capacity just from the Bhadla solar power park. All this capacity has already been allocated to project developers, with 740 megawatts of capacity already operational. Last year, the park witnessed the lowest tariff bids ever for solar power projects in India. A total capacity of 1,000 megawatts was allocated to project developers at tariffs as low as Rs 2.43/kWh (¢3.8/kWh). A final phase of 500 megawatts of capacity is yet to be auctioned.
In addition to the 740 megawatts of capacity operational at Bhadla solar power park, Rajasthan has also seen addition of 1,592 megawatts of capacity over the last four years. Several of these projects were commissioned under the central government’s National Solar Mission which initially had a target of 22 gigawatts of operational solar power capacity by March 2022. The target has now been increased to 100 gigawatts by the same time.
India’s current operational solar power capacity stands at over 12 gigawatts.
Apart from the Bhadla solar power park, the Rajasthan government, in partnership with private companies, is developing at least three more parks with a cumulative capacity of 3,250 megawatts. The Bhadla solar power park is expected to be fully operational with 2,250 megawatts by March 2019, while the other three solar power parks are expected to be operational by the end of 2019.
While state government officials claim that the Bhadla solar power park will be the largest solar power park in the world, Pavagada solar power park in Karnataka would likely take that label, with a planned capacity of 2,700 megawatts.