Where is the world’s largest proposed utility scale solar project?

solar panels in a field

How big can a solar farm get?

If you were thrown a curly question, say in a solar-powered themed pub quiz, about which country was proposing to build the world’s largest utility scale solar project, how would you answer?

China may well be your first choice. With the People’s Republic leading the world in driving down the cost of solar through cheaper solar panels and placing great emphasis on developing alternatives to its coal-based economy, you’d think this was a sure bet.

But no.

OK, how about the United States? (You may ask). While the second term of the Obama administration has been beset with problems both economically and ah…through a little unpleasantness uncovered by a certain Mr Snowden, the prez’s recent state-of-the-union speech made it clear the country was heading towards a renewable future.

No again.

Germany? (you may mutter under your breath like a card player who has seen his or her two best cards trumped). The eternal innovator has led the way in developing European technology in solar panels as well as providing a workable government support mechanism to create a sense of certainty in the solar sector.


Alright I give up! (You will say). Here’s where you throw both hands in the air in exasperation only to return one quickly to the cool, cleansing glass of ale preferred for pub quiz-style refreshments.

The answer is India, who are presently planning one mother of a solar project in the northern state of Rajasthan.

The utility scale solar power project well deserves the official rating of “mother” on the SQHQ rating scale because the proposed project:

  • At 77 sq. kms will be larger than the island of Manhattan.
  • Will generate an estimated 6.4 billion KW hours per year.
  • Is ten times bigger than any similar solar project built anywhere in the world.
  • Will reduce India’s carbon emissions by 4 million tonnes per year.
  • Will cost a cool US4.4 billion.

India has, up until now, been less than a world solar powerhouse with around 2,208 MW installed. This though was up from a (comparatively) sickly 17.8 MW in 2010.

However as with its turbo-charged economy, the world’s largest democracy is catching up to its great rival China in its support of a renewable future. The mega (mother) project in Rajasthan would appear to confirm that this is definitely the case with its solar power sector. From small scale solar breakthroughs, such as solar lamps, as well as mega projects on the other end of the scale, it appears that the country’s solar sector under the Singh Congress party government is on the march.

But there are two critical aspects of India’s push for a solar future. It is built on Chinese technology and the country has also benefited from the hurtling down the cost curve of the price of producing solar energy. The so-called “grid parity” with other forms of energy such as coal and electricity.

However India’s rapid push towards a solar future has earned it plaudits with many other nations looking towards India as a world leader in this vital field of innovation and source of energy.

According to this Business Insider report India’s World Bank country director Onno Ruhl claimed that India’s solar push under the Singh government means the country deserves to be considered as a world leader in solar energy.

In a telling point he added that the world “…was watching the ability of Indian entrepreneurs to achieve grid parity for solar energy”.

Will the next generation of solar innovation come from India? Perhaps a great deal will depend on this year’s elections where the once dominant Congress is under pressure from the conservative BJP party. If the BJP does win, it may well react the way conservative administrations do here in Australia in rolling back renewable gains.

We’ll keep you posted on this SQHQ fans!

Thanks to SQHQ’s John Burcher for the tip for this week’s rant on the subject of utility scale solar. Don’t hesitate to leave a comment either here or over at our Facebook or Google Plus pages should you have a thought for a subject you’d like to see covered in a SQHQ-style rave. We’re not exactly weddings, parties, anything but you get the picture.


  1. I think your knowledge of Indian politics is extremely limited.
    In India 90% of solar power is generated in state of Rajasthan and Gujarat and both are currently ruled by BJP. If India goes 100% solar biggest losers will be Australian and Chinese coal miners and oil producers.

    • There is NO way using current technology that India will go 100% solar. Its’s simply not economically or technologically feasible

      Whilst I have a PV solar on my house, an article like this shows how solar in its current form will never be a base load replacement with our current technology base.

      6.4B kW hour over a year seems a lot. To spend $4.4B on system that after 7:00pm at night can’t even boil a cup of tea leaves a lot to be desired.

      India demand for power is around 7.7 tW (7.7 million million watts in 2008). So need to up ramp by a factor of 1200 times to meet demand. You need another $5,280 Billion dollars & land capacity of 77 ha *1200 = 94,400 ha to be able to meet that demand (probably need to factor in another 20 to 30% above that as a solar system system never runs at full capacity for very long periods.

      Storage of surplus energy needs to rise exponentially & decrease in costs at the same rate to make renewables a viable replacement. At present the technology is a bandaide or allows the current base load systems the ability to wind back production, however due to the add hoc production from facilities like this, need to be in a constant stand by state of rediness to cover consumer demand as renewable production fluctuates during the course of a day.

  2. A great story that needs to be out there for the general public to see in order to embarrass our leaders into looking beyond fossil fuels !!

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