The world’s largest solar array is in progress in India:
Four gigawatts of generating capacity, set up in Sambhar district in the desert state Rajasthan.
In a first of its kind venture, six public sector undertakings (PSUs) including state-run Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) and Power Grid Corporation of India Limited (PGCIL) on Wednesday announced joining hands to set up world’s largest 4,000 MW ultra mega solar power project in Rajasthan.
According to BEHL chairman and managing director, B.P. Rao, in the first phase of the project, 1000 MW would be made operational. The project will be the largest single location solar plant spread across 19,000 acres at Sambhar in Rajasthan.
India has been overwhelmingly reliant on coal to meet its energy demands, and this has contributed both to its rapidly expanding carbon footprint and its nearly ubiquitous choking air pollution.
The Sambhar district is also home to a significant wildlife sanctuary, home to huge numbers of birds. Let’s hope their lives are improved rather than destroyed by this project.
Sambhar is India’s largest saline lake, 190 sq km in extent at full capacity, and lays some 60 km west of Jaipur, just outside prosaically named Salt Lake City. This vast body of glacial saline is on average just 0.6 cm deep and never more than 3 m even just after the monsoon. It stretches in length for 22.5 km, its width varying between 3 and 11 km. Several seasonal freshwater streams, two of the major ones being the rivers Mendha and Rupangarh, feed it.
The vast, roughly elliptically shaped lake has been divided into two sections by a 5-km long stone dam. The eastern section contains the reservoirs for salt extraction, canals and saltpans. Water from the vast shimmering western section is pumped to the other side via sluice gates when it reaches a degree of salinity considered optimal for salt extraction. The waters here are glacially still, edged with a glittering frost of salt. Flies abound, drawn by the blue-green algae in the water, and queue up in order to crawl into your mouth and ears. There is a sharp briny tang in the air that takes one straight back to coastal fish markets. An indigenously developed rail trolley system-the lines were laid by the British-takes one across the dam and to various far-flung points in the salt works.
Rajasthan’s music is jaw-droppingly beautiful.