NEW DELHI, Feb. 10 (UPI) — India recently announced its intention to build the world’s biggest solar energy plant — a grid of solar panels spanning an expanse of land larger than Manhattan and producing as much as 4,000 megawatts, roughly the output of four nuclear reactors.
But the project’s total costs are expected to be prohibitively expensive, moving India’s renewable energy officials to ask their government to approach the World Bank for $500 million in loan assistance to get the first phase of the project underway.
Climate change activists and world leaders have generally been frustrated by India’s reluctance to agree to emissions reduction goals. But while the subcontinent’s solar power production is still dwarfed by countries like the U.S. and Germany, it’s made significant strides in a short amount of time. Today India produces 2,208 megawatts of solar power. Only four years ago, it produced just 17.8 megawatts.
But not everyone’s impressed. “Feeding 4,000 MW into an already leaking grid where 20 percent of electricity gets wasted in transmission and distribution losses and [most] ends up feeding the urban centres makes little sense,” Chandra Bhushan, head of the New Delhi-based think tank Center for Science and Environment, told Nature.
Meanwhile, the U.S. plans to file a complaint with the World Trade Organization over the manner in which India is subsidizing its solar power industry.