AsianScientist (Dec. 28, 2020) – India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid the foundation stone for what will soon be the world’s largest renewable energy park on December 15, 2020. Built in the Kutch region of Western Gujarat, the project will cover 180,000 acres—an area just over the size of Singapore.
Since the Industrial Revolution, fossil fuels like coal and oil have powered everything from trains to factories and household lights. Our centuries-long habit of burning fossil fuels, however, comes at a cost: global warming. Greenhouse gases released by these fuels trap heat in the atmosphere, with 2020 likely to end up as one of the hottest years on record.
To avert consequences of global warming like extreme weather events and rising sea levels, countries like India are increasingly turning to renewable energy. Unlike fossil fuels, renewable energy sources like solar and wind power can be replenished and do not release greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
According to Modi, the vast plot of solar panels, solar energy storage units and windmills will generate 30 gigawatts of power—a substantial increase from the 2.245 gigawatt capacity of India’s Bhadla solar park, currently the largest of its kind in the world.
The sprawling energy park will hold a dedicated hybrid zone for wind and solar energy generation and storage as well as an exclusive wind park zone. Once completed, the new ‘megapark’ is expected to help India reduce its carbon dioxide emissions by up to 50 million tons per year.
This development is a part of India’s march towards a target of 175 gigawatts of renewable energy capacity by 2022, with 100 gigawatts generated from solar, 60 gigawatts from wind, ten gigawatts from bioenergy and five gigawatts from small-scale hydropower dams.
The green energy megapark is a huge step towards this goal, accomplishing almost 20 percent of the targeted 175 gigawatts. Moving forward, India aims to accomplish an even more ambitious goal of 450 gigawatts by 2030.
Despite the seemingly apparent environmental benefits of such a project, grassroots organizations have raised concerns over the megapark’s long-term effects on the region’s biodiversity. Though described as a wasteland, the vast expanse allocated for the megapark’s construction is actually a unique desert ecosystem home to hundreds of birds that might not survive the new power lines and structures.
Part of a bigger movement of several development projects in the Kutch district, the megapark will be built next to a desalination plant that can process 100 million tons of water a day for the 800,000 people living within the region.
“Energy and water security are vital in the 21st century,” said Modi to Agence France-Presse. “The two major projects of the renewable energy park and the desalination plant inaugurated today in Kutch are steps towards achieving the two.”
Copyright: Asian Scientist Magazine; Photo: Pexels.
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