The largest solar power plant in the world is a California project 550 megawatts (MW) in size. Dwarfing that, the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir has just given the green light to a 5,000 MW solar project and a 2,500 MW solar project. Granted, these projects will likely be composed of many separate solar power plants. Nonetheless, 7,500 MW is about three-fourths of the entire solar power capacity in the United States at the end of the 3rd quarter of 2013.
These solar projects totaling 7,500 MW add on to a 4,000 MW solar "ultra mega" project that recently received a memorandum of understanding in another Indian state, Rajasthan. Again, a little simple math shows that these three projects together would have a power capacity surpassing all the solar power installed in the US. Staggering.
Nonetheless, this doesn't come as a great surprise. India is looking to provide electricity to hundreds of millions of people currently without it in the coming years, and solar is already cheaper than diesel power there. Trying to avoid the construction of inflexible, dirty, expensive, centralized power plants (nuclear & coal power plants), India is jumping right into the clean energy age. As I discussed in an interview for CNBC and Harvard Business Review's "Energy Opportunities" series a few years ago, just as people in developing nations leapfrogged past landlines into the cellular age, they will leapfrog past 20th-century power plants into the wind and solar age.
In a meeting of senior officials, a memorandum of understanding was signed for the Jammu and Kashmir solar projects. The 5,000 MW project is planned for Ladakh, while the 2,500 MW one is planned for Kargil.
Located in the Himalayas, MNRE Union minister Farooq Abdullah said at the meeting that Ladakh could easily host 30,000 MW of solar power capacity! So, 5,000 is just an appetizer.
I imagine this solar power leadership would make the locals happy... as if little Ladakh girls like this one need anything else to make them smile: