India has become home to the world's largest solar power plant thanks to a 648-megawatt (MW) facility that has come online in the southern part of the country. The previous record holder belonged to the Topaz Solar Farm in California that has a capacity of 550 MW.
India has been fast-tracking solar power projects in the past few years thanks to a goal of having 20 gigawatts (GW) of solar power capacity installed by 2022. That goal has spurred some very large solar projects, including a 4 GW plant slated to be built over the next 7 years.
Planned solar power projects have grown in size, but each plant takes years to pass through different phases of approval, receive funding and ultimately be built. That's why as we hear about plans for solar power plants with capacities in the thousands of megawatts, the largest ones actually built and running are in the hundreds of megawatts.
None of that should take away from the impressiveness of this new power plant though. The facility, funded by the Adani Group, is located in Kamuthi, Tamil Nadu and covers 10 square kilometers. It consists of 2.5 million individual solar modules and it's estimated that it will generate enough electricity to power 150,000 homes.
The solar panels are cleaned every day by a robotic system that is powered by the solar panels. The daily cleaning maximizes the power output of the panels.
With this plant online, India now has over 10 GW of installed solar power capacity, putting them halfway to their 2022 goal that will see 60 million homes powered by the sun. According to Al Jazeera, India will become the world's third largest solar market starting next year behind the U.S. and China.