Kamuthi Solar Power Project is a solar park spread over an area of 2,500 acres in Kamuthi, 90 km from Madurai, in the state of Tamil Nadu, India. The project was commissioned by Adani Power. With a generating capacity of 648 MW at a single location, it is the world’s second largest solar park.
ABB commissioned five substations to connect the solar park with the National Grid on 13 June 2016. Kamuthi Solar Power Project was completed on 21 September 2016 with an investment of around US$710 million. The solar plant consists of 2.5 million solar modules, 380,000 foundations, 27,000 metres of structures, 576 inverters, 154 transformers, and almost 6,000 km of cables. Construction of the structures needed to mount the solar panels required 30,000 tonnes of galvanised steel. Around 8,500 workers installed an average of 11 MW of capacity per day to complete the project within 8 months.
The entire solar park is connected to a 400 KV substation of the Tamil Nadu Transmission Corp. The solar panels are cleaned daily by a self-charged robotic system. Given the solar resource of around 5.5-6.0 kWh/m2 per day an annual generation of 1.3 TWh/yr may be possible.
- Gujarat-based Adani group had signed a MoU with the Tamil Nadu government to set up the largest solar photovoltaic plant in India at a cost of Rs 4,536 crore in Ramanathapuram district.
- Although a solar plant of 1,000 MW was proposed, the capacity was later downgraded to 648 MW as a single large tract of land was not available for the project.
- About 4,000 acres of land was acquired on lease and only barren lands were acquired from individuals. No government land was given for setting up the plant.
- When this solar power plant will work to its full capacity, it will account for nearly 10 per cent of India’s installed solar capacity of around seven gigawatts (GW). It is likely to produce enough power for around 150,000 local households each year.
- On June 13, the power plant became operational after five substations successfully connected 360 MW of power to the national grid.
- Even at 360 MW, the output of the solar park is higher than India’s first solar power park located in Charanka district of Gujarat. The current capacity of Charanka power plant is 345 MW.
- The Adani Group had come under criticism for selling solar power to Tamil Nadu government at a much higher rate (Rs 7.01/kWh) than national average (Rs 4.70/kWh).
- Tamil Nadu government also faced flak for fixing such a high tariff in September 2014 and sticking to the same tariff despite a visible fall in price in other states.
- This solar plant, which is a part of Indian government’s plan to build 25 large-scale solar parks between 500 MW and 1,000 MW over five years, will sell solar power to the state government for 25 years. That indicates a huge loss to the state exchequer.
- In February 2016, a fire broke out at the solar power plant damaging four solar panels. The fire had broken out when power was being fed into the local grid on a trial basis.