The new crown for the World’s Largest Solar plant has gone to Bhadla Solar Park in March 2020, which is located in Rajasthan, India with a total capacity of 2245 MW and is providing electricity to millions in India.
The project takes full advantage of the dry and barren wasteland of 45 sq km. As Bhadla is located in the middle of a desert, it is prone to sand storms which might be a trouble for a solar plant, but not this one. This solar park is equipped with a very advanced robotic tech which uses non-water techniques to clean the PV panels
Bhadla: The Location
Rajasthan is India’s most solar-developed state. Bhadla is located in the Jodhpur district of Rajasthan and is described as “unlivable” due to extreme and harsh weather. The day temperature of this arid desert ranges from 46 to 48 ℃, coupled with sand storms makes it inhospitable. Rainfall is very scarce in this location as it is situated in the north-west of India, the monsoon clouds get saturated when it reaches this point.
Having said that, this location is almost ideal for a solar plant as it has clear skies throughout the year. To be precise Rajasthan has the highest solar radiation of about 5.72kWh/m²/day, no doubt it has the largest solar plant in the world.
Why is Bhadla the Largest Solar Power Plant in the World
Not long ago in 2019 India still held the position of the largest solar plant in the world with a total capacity of 2050 MW, the Pavagada Solar Park. But the spot was taken by China, Huanghe Hydropower Golmud Solar Park, which started its construction in November 2019 and was completed in just four months. Well, that’s super fast.
But India was not behind, Bhadla plant was constructed in four phases and had multiple stakeholders and due to the harsh location, the process took a bit more time. But still, it was completed in 2020 to be crowned the world’s largest.
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So at present India that is December 2020, India has 6 solar power plants amongst the top 10 solar plants in the world on the basis of total capacity.
One of the Lowest Solar Tariff
To anyone’s knowledge, huge projects like Bhadla collaborates with multiple developers. They are selected through auctions regulated by the government. For Bhadla solar plant there was a massive list of 16 developers. The total investment raised at the end of the completion of the project was ₹100 billion or US$ 1.4 billion
The project was developed in 4 phases and for each phase, it was divided into multiple batches. The developers had to bid on the allocated space given on the basis of the total capacity e.i., Mega Watt. The bidders here had to bid the lowest tariff they could offer after commissioning of that section of the plant to be awarded. This type of auction is called Reverse Auction.
The lowest bid for the project was made by ACME Solar, which was ₹2.44 per unit for the 500 MW allotted for auction. This is actually cheaper than thermal power plants in some cases and was considered historically the lowest during the time.
Water-free Robotic Cleaners
As Bhadla solar park is located in the middle of the desert, it is prone to dust and sand storms throughout the year. Accumulation of sand on the solar panel reduces the efficiency by a large margin. So cleaning the panels on a regular basis is an essential part of the project.
But there was a fundamental problem.
Arranging tons of water to clean the panels in the middle of a desert was totally impossible. They had to think of something which was required less or on the water for cleaning.
A robotics company named Ecoppia came with the solution. Ecoppia is a leading company in the field of robotic PV cleaning solutions. It uses cloud-based water-free robotic technology to clean the solar panels of the Bhadla solar park. It was the ideal solution for the project as it does not require any water for cleaning and can be controlled remotely using its cloud-based support.
India is very ambitious in the field of renewable energy and also is one of the world leader. India has announced multiple ultra mega projects which are in the pipeline like in Gujarat, Ladakh etc.. Bhadla Solar Park is not only the largest solar plant till date but also it uses the most modern robotics tech to ensure its smooth operation. It has gone through a lot of hurdles due to delays related to land allocation and severe weather conditions it has completed in March 2020.