Solar farm to provide electricity to 60,000 rural homes in India

Jan 10, 2012 12:00 AM

India’s ever-growing population is another tiny step closer to energy security with the announcement of a solar PV farm to be built near Jodhpur in the state of Rajasthan.
Global solar developer, Mahindra Solar One (not to be confused with Hanwha SolarOne) has been commissioned to build the facility, which features cutting-edge solar PV and tracking systems technology, capable of generating the highest output per MW of any solar plant in India says the company.

According to Mahindra Solar One Engineering, Procurement and Construction arm, MEPC, the project was commissioned in a record time of just 100 days and was the first in India to achieve non-recourse financing, “demonstrating the confidence of the banking sector in the solar industry”.
Clean energy generated by the 5 MW solar plant will go towards reaching goals set under India’s Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM), which aims to secure India’s energy future by luring foreign investment into utility-scale solar thermal and PV projects.

The Mission has set a target of 20,000 MW of installed solar capacity by 2022, with a 1-GW goal set for 2013.
The Mahindra Group and its financial partner, Kiran Energy, has won over 50 MW worth of solar contracts under the JNNSM Phase 1B, and plans to develop future contracts for both on-and-off-grid solar projects for up to 100 MW over the next three years.

In addition to proving local employment to over 200 people during construction, the plant is expected to provide solar electricity to around 60,000 rural homes and avoid emissions of 8,000 tons of carbon dioxide per year.
The 60,000 homes figure stated by Mahindra seems very high, but it highlights the massive difference between the needs of the average rural family in India compared to electricity consumption in other countries such as Australia, where a 5 MW capacity would service far fewer homes.

According to Wikipedia, the average annual electricity consumption of a rural household in India with access to mains electricity in 2009 was just 96 kWh.
This is substantially less than what the average Australian household consumes in just a week -- around 126 kWh.

Presiding over the launch ceremony for the Mahindra plant in Mumbai, Union Cabinet Minister, Dr Farooq Abdullah said, “The New & Renewable Energy Ministry recognizes the important role solar energy plays for our country’s energy security.”
“The JNNSM policy is crafted to create a robust and scalable solar industry and I am delighted to be launching one of the first solar plants commissioned under this scheme by a respected corporate like the Mahindra Group.”

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