The World’s Largest Solar Park - Kurnool, India

NRDC India team at the Kurnool Ultra Mega Solar Park in October 2017
Credit: NRDC

Co-authored by Laasya Bhagavatula

Guess where the world’s largest solar park is? That’s right: India.

The NRDC India team recently had a site visit to the largest solar park in the world in the district of Kurnool in the south Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. Kurnool is home to the 1,000 MW solar park—the largest single-location operational solar park in the world.  

The Kurnool Ultra Mega Solar Park is just the beginning. The Andhra Pradesh government has another massive 1,500 MW solar park slated in the region of Kadapa, and two more large scale solar parks nearing completion. With an additional 2,750 MW of solar energy set to be added to the state’s energy mix, Andhra Pradesh is the one of the leading Indian states in solar energy—neck-in-neck with Telangana, Gujarat, Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu.  

India’s solar energy progress

At the start of India’s National Solar Mission in 2010, India had a mere 17 MW of installed solar energy with the aim of 20 GW by 2020. Many criticized the Solar Mission’s 20 GW as “too ambitious” for India at the time. Just a few years later, India has ramped up the its solar target to 100 GW of solar power by 2022—a five-fold increase, and is home to the largest solar park in the world.

India currently has over 12 GW of solar energy, and plans to achieve a total of 20 GW of solar energy by March 2018. Yes, much more needs to be done, but the progress is remarkable. And with the climate talks coming up in Bonn in a few weeks, India is demonstrating real clean energy progress on the ground.

What is an “ultra mega solar park”? 

An “ultra mega solar park” is a solar power project greater than 500 MW. India’s Ministry of New and Renewable Energy announced plans in 2014 to accelerate large scale solar energy with a target of achieving 20,000 MW of solar parks by 2019. NRDC and our partners, CEEW, worked with MNRE and others to scope and analyze the use of emerging solar parks in our 2012 report, Laying the Foundation for a Bright Future.

Highlights of the Kurnool Ultra Mega Solar Park

  • Ownership: The solar park is a combination of state and central government partnership. As the implementing agency, the Andhra Pradesh Solar Power Corporation Pvt Ltd (APSPCL) is a joint venture between the state and central government. The national Solar Energy Corporation of India has 50% of APSPCL shares, while the state power generation company, APGENCO has 41%, and the state New and Renewable Energy Development Corporation holds 9%.
  • Land Acquisition and Transmission Systems: APSPCL led the park development by acquiring over 9 square miles of land as well as developing common roads, drainage, data monitoring and more. APSCL also worked with developers to raise ₹500,000 ($7,700) per MW from each developer to create a local area development fund for improvements in the surrounding villages, such as roads, drains and drinking water.
  • Workforce: Local skilled and semi-skilled workers are given preference for job opportunities in the solar park. Over 2,500 skilled and unskilled jobs are employed during the construction phase. GreenKo established an innovative skill development center at the site of the solar park conducts training for local qualified workers, which we had a chance to visit and interact with the engaging trainees.

The Indian national government provided a grant of ₹2 million ($30,000) per MW to APSPCL. Of the park’s total 1,000 MW, 500 MW was developed by GreenKo (transferred from Sun Edison), 350 MW by Soft Bank Energy, 100 MW by Azure Power and the final 50 MW by Adani (transferred from Prayatna Developers).

By October 2017, the Kurnool Ultra Mega Solar Park had generated over 800 million units of energy, and saved over 700,000 tons of carbon dioxide. Addressing water shortage concerns, the park’s entire water needs—including water used for cleaning solar panels and supplying water—are met through a reservoir created for rain water harvesting.  

The Kurnool Ultra Mega Solar Park is an innovative example of the huge strides that India is making in accelerating solar energy.

Developers of the Kurnool Ultra Mega Solar Park:

M/s Sun Edison (M/s GreenKo) 500 MW @ Rs.4.63 (~$0.07) per kWh
M/s Soft Bank Energy 350 MW @ Rs.4.63 (~$0.07) per kWh
M/s Azure Power 100 MW @ Rs.5.12 (~$0.08) per kWh
M/s Prayatna Developers (M/s Adani) 50 MW @ Rs.5.13 (~$0.08) per kWh

Key stats of the Kurnool Ultra Mega Solar Park:

Energy generated as of October 5, 2017 806.072 Million Units (MU)
Annual energy generation @ 24 percent CUF 2,102.4 MU
Annual carbon emission reduction  1,892,160 tons of CO2
Total no. of solar PV modules erected 4,580,471
Total weight of mounting structure erected 42,124 Metric Tons
Total length of cables laid 12,749 kilometers

Charts courtesy of Andhra Pradesh Solar Power Corporation Pvt. Ltd.

Local workers at the Kurnool Ultra Mega Solar Park
Credit: NRDC