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The World's Largest Solar Plant To Be Built In India Will Triple The County's Capacity

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A worker inspects solar panels at a solar farm in Dunhuang
(Photo : Reuters) A worker inspects solar panels at a solar farm in Dunhuang, 950 km (590 miles) northwest of Lanzhou, Gansu Province September 16, 2013. India plans to build the largest solar power plant in the world that will have the output capacity of four full-size nuclear reactors. Picture taken on September 16, 2013.

India plans to build the world's largest solar plant that will produce energy comparable to four full-size nuclear reactors.

The project will more more than ten times the size of any of its kind and will have a production capacity of 4,000 megawatts, according to the Huffington Post.

It will cover 77 square kilometers of land — an area larger than the island of Manhattan — and cost $4.4 billion.

Six state-owned energy companies are coming together to build the plant near Sambhar Salt Lake in the northern state of Rajasthan.

The estimated life of the plant is 25 years over the course of which it is expected to supply 6.4 billion kilowatt-hours per year, the Huffington Post reported. Parimita Mohanty, a fellow at the Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) in New Delhi, said that amount could reduce carbon dioxide emissions in Idia by more than 4 million tonnes per year.

"India currently has a grid-connected solar-power capacity of 2,208 MW - up from a mere 17.8 MW in 2010, when the central government launched the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM). The JNNSM aims for India to reach an installed capacity of 20,000 MW (or 20 gigawatts) of solar power by 2022 (see 'India embarks on solar drive')," wrote Sanjay Kumar at the Huffington Post.

Solar energy will play an important role in meeting that goal since its production cost India has reduced half in recent years. It has shrunk to 7.50 rupees per kWh.

The price is expected to continue to fall but it is still above other fuels by comparison. Coal costs 2.50 rupees per kWh, nuclear costs 3 rupees per kWh and natural gas 5.5 rupees per kWh.

Environmentalists are not as thrilled with the project as some might expect.  

"We don't think this should be the way to go ahead," Chandra Bhushan, deputy director-general of the think tank Center for Science and Environment in New Delhi, told the Huffington Post. "Feeding 4,000 MW into an already leaking grid where 20% of electricity gets wasted in transmission and distribution losses and [most] ends up feeding the urban centres makes little sense."

Bhushan added that less than 50 percent of Indians living in villages have electricity and advocated multiple, smaller projects.

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