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Jon LeSage

Jon LeSage

Jon LeSage is a California-based journalist covering clean vehicles, alternative energy, and economic and regulatory trends shaping the automotive, transportation, and mobility sectors.

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India Surges Ahead In Global Solar Race

While financial analysts and bankers warn about decline in the global solar market, the race is still on, and India has become one of the frontrunners.

A new report by Power Technology shows that India is taking the race very seriously, with five of the nine largest solar installations in the world. China and the U.S. had taken the lead in the past, making up two-thirds of global growth in solar power in recent years. But India is investing heavily to beat them; and they’re not the only country working to be seen as the global leader in the burgeoning industry.

The UAE's Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park is in the works and will be the largest in the world.

Developments in the solar power sector have become so rapid that the largest solar power station won’t necessarily stay in that spot for very long, according to the report. Solar power capacity has reached four-fold growth in the past five years. That came out to nearly 400GW of solar power capacity by the end of last year. Solar also made for nearly 20% of global power growth in 2017.

Declining manufacturing costs in solar, and public concern over environmental issues in energy sources, are behind much of it. India and China are particularly concerned about increasing domestic energy to stabilize prices and offset the impact of oil imports.

Leading investment bankers raised concerns over growth in solar power. Last month, Goldman Sachs forecasted that the solar power market will see 24 percent fewer installations this year. Bloomberg New Energy Finance and Credit Suisse had shared their own concerns earlier, but at a more conservative level. BNEF expects that the solar market will contract by 3 percent year, which Credit Suisse predicts a 17 percent reduction in new installations this year. Related: Indonesia’s Oil Sector In Jeopardy As Elections Loom

Some of that decline will be driven by China putting approval on hold for new installations due to the debt associated with current solar farms. Concerns were also raised after the Trump administration place a 25-percent import tariff on Chinese-made photovoltaic (PV) cells used in solar panels.

India’s five largest solar power facilities will see Bhadla Industrial Solar Park gain the most potential with capacity to produce 2,255MW of power once fully constructed by December 2019. Over one million solar panels have already been installed, spread out over 45 square kilometers (17.3 square miles).

Kamuthi Solar Power Station in Tamil Nadu, India, currently runs off 2.5 million solar panels with total power generation capacity of 648MW. It’s estimated to make enough power for 750,000 people. The site was built over eight months and was completed in September 2016. A robotic system has been set up to clean the plant, and it’s powered by its own solar panels.

Kurnool Ultra Mega Solar Park has a total generating capacity of 1,000MW, with capacity to generate more than 8 million kWh of electricity — enough power to virtually meet all the electricity demand in India’s Kurmool district. Related: LNG: China’s Biggest Weapon In The Trade War

Shakti Sthala Solar Plant started being operational in March of this year, and will eventually reach 2,000MW in total capacity. Pavagada Solar Park will also have 2,000MW of capacity, with 600MW established in January 2018 and a further 1,400MW planned for this year.

United Arab Emirates (UAE) has big plans for solar with the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park having planned capacity of 1,000MW by 2020, and 5,000MW by 2030. It will become the world’s largest solar power plant.

Residents of Dubai will receive clean energy through the solar park. The facility will also feature an Innovation Center, a research and development center, testing facilities, and a solar-powered water desalination plant.

China’s Longyangxia Dam Solar Park became active in 2013, with its second phase completed in 2015. It has total capacity of 850MW and can power 200,000 households. It’s located on the Tibetan Plateau in northwestern China’s Qinghai province.

China owns the world’s largest solar plant in both size and production. Called the “Great Wall of Solar,” it produces 1,547MW of power.

Mexico made the top rankings through its Enel Villanueva PV Plant. Located in the providence of Coahuila, the facility houses over 2.3 million solar panels and is capable of producing more than 1,700GWh per year once it becomes fully operational. The Villanueva plans is about 41 percent completed, and able to produce about 310MW of power.

By Jon LeSage for Oilprice.com

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  • Dan on August 16 2018 said:
    The most interesting point was China's concern over solar farms debt. Perhaps the same way investors are concerned about JCPenny debt this morning.

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