In modern society, the need for power is an ever-present, yet often overlooked reality. Every time we use our cars or phones, every time we turn on the lights or cook something on our stoves, we need power. The question of how to obtain that power is an important one and many believe that finding sustainable power sources will be a key part of ensuring the future prosperity of humanity. There are many innovative ideas about sustainable energy sources, but one of the most recognizable and readily accessible is solar energy.
Today I would like to focus on a huge solar energy project that most people have probably never heard about. Tucked away in the town of Kamuthi in the Ramanathapuram district in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu is the world’s largest solar plant. Completed in September of last year the Kamuthi Solar Power Project spreads out over an area of 2,500 acres, contains 2.5 million solar panels, and has a capacity of 648 megawatts. Despite its massive scale the project took only approximately eight months to complete. When working at full capacity this plant will produce enough energy to power close to 150,000 homes. In addition to providing clean energy to thousands of families the plant itself is something to be marveled at. Not only does the sheer size of the plant compensate for whatever cloud cover may come its way, but some of its maintenance is self-powered. To keep the panels working at peak capacity they need to be cleaned of dust and dirt regularly. Instead of using thousands of gallons of water to do this, the plant uses solar powered, dry cleaning robots that provide daily upkeep of the solar panels.
The project was commissioned by Adani Power and cost $679 million to build. With the success of this plant, Adani is contributing to a national goal of powering 60 million homes with solar energy by the year 2020. Should India meet this goal it will take its place as one of the top three solar energy producers in the world alongside China and the United States.
Annelissa Taylor is a second-year Master student at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and is working toward her degree in Public Administration.