The largest solar park in the world has now become entirely operational. The Pavagada Solar Park, located in Tumakuru district of Karnataka, has been developed by the Karnataka Solar Park Development Corporation Limited (KSPDCL), a joint venture between the Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) and the Karnataka Renewable Energy (KREDL). Initially, the plan was to build a solar park of capacity 2,000 MW spanning over 13,000 acres of land. Later, an additional capacity of 50 MW was added.
The final 200 MW capacity developed by SB Energy (SoftBank) has now been commissioned, getting the world’s biggest solar park up and running. Earlier, KSPDCL had informed that it expected the entire 2,050 MW at Pavagada to be operational by December 2019.
When contacted, a KSPDCL official informed, “The entire 2,050 MW of solar projects in Pavagada is operational and generating power. After SB Energy commissioned its final 100 MW of solar project on December 17, 2019, the solar park was officially fully operational.”
Out of the total 2,050 MW capacity, the National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) implemented 600 MW of solar PV projects, SECI implemented 200 MW, while KREDL implemented 1,250 MW.
The Pavagada Solar Park was conceptualized in February 2015, and the park’s development began in January 2016. The park is divided into eight blocks of 250 MW each and has dedicated high voltage supply lines, pooling stations, and a pooling substation for evacuation. The mere magnitude and scale of the solar park make clear that this project has taken an equally huge amount of planning, hard work, and time to get the projects running.
A unique feature of the Pavagada Solar Park is that land used in the entire park is leased, which has lowered the park’s cost. The KSPDCL is paying farmers ₹21,000 (~$323)/acre/year with a five percent escalation every two years for land that is being utilized for solar park development. Since Pavagada is a drought-hit area, this arrangement worked for both parties.
A year later, grid-connected solar projects totaling 400 MW were commissioned. The process of conceptualizing and developing the required infrastructure for those projects took more than two years.
When the Mercom team visited the Pavagada Solar Park in November 2017, the development of park infrastructure was well underway, and it was expected to take a few more months before the evacuation infrastructure for the entire 2 GW was up and running.
According to Mercom India’s Solar Project Tracker, Karnataka is the top solar state in India, with approximately 7.1 GW of large-scale solar projects in operation and approximately 1 GW of projects under the development pipeline. The state boast of renewables share of 62% in its power mix, followed by thermal power and nuclear with 35% and 2.5% respectively. The share of solar in the total installed power capacity is 22%.