JODHPUR, INDIA - India's largest photovoltaic solar power plant, located in the western state of Rajasthan, has started generating clean energy that will provide electricity to thousands of households and businesses in Mumbai.
"The 40-megawatt plant is expected to produce more than 60 million kilowatt hours of electricity a year, enough to light up more than 70,000 average Indian households, while avoiding more than 60,000 metric tons of harmful carbon dioxide emissions per year," said Michael Barrow, Director of the Asian Development Bank's (ADB) Private Sector Operations Department.
The $147.5 million Dahanu plant, near the village of Dhursar in the Jaisalmer district in Rajasthan, was developed by Reliance Power Ltd., one of the largest private power developers in India, with support from a $48 million loan from ADB.
The site, 180 kilometers west of the city of Jodhpur, has one of the highest levels of solar irradiation in the country. That, plus the arid, barren landscape of that part of the state, meant it was an ideal location for the 350-acre plant that comprises 500,000 solar panels.
ADB is also lending $103 million to Reliance Power to help build the Rajasthan Concentrating Solar Power Project, which will be located adjacent to the Dahanu plant. Concentrating solar power and photovoltaic solar power are different methods of generating electricity from the energy of the sun and the Government of India is looking to develop both.
The Dahanu plant is part of ADB's goal of developing, financing, or commissioning 3,000 megawatts of solar energy generation capacity in developing Asia by May 2013. This Asia Solar Energy Initiative is aimed at helping to ensure that the region's demand for energy is met in a way that is environmentally sustainable. The Government of India is also keen to develop renewable energy to avoid greenhouse gas emissions and to diversify its energy sources.
In addition to the two plants, ADB is supporting the development of a solar park in Charanka in Gujarat state by financing a transmission line and substation to evacuate power. ADB has also set up a financing facility to provide partial credit guarantees to lenders willing to fund solar power projects of up to 25 megawatts. That facility is designed to help reduce risk for the private sector, and to mobilize long-term funding for solar energy development.