India has completed construction on the largest solar power plant in the world, which is expected to make the country the third largest producer of solar power in 2017.
The plant is located in Tamil Nadu, southern India, reports Al Jazeera. With a 648 MW capacity, it will create enough energy to power an estimated 150,000 homes. It was constructed in only eight months with a $679 million price tag and uses 2.5 million individual solar panels over the span of nearly four square miles.
The plant will help push India's solar capacity past the 10 GW threshold, which makes it one of just a few countries with that much solar power.
India's newest move in clean energy will help push it toward its goal of providing solar power to 60 million homes by 2022, as a part of a larger initiative to draw 40 percent of its power from sustainable energy sources by 2030 and help cut down on the severe levels of pollution in New Delhi and other metropolitan areas. Officials have declared a health emergency in the capital city after smog readings in early November reached their worst levels in 17 years.
"The situation today is not confined to New Delhi but also to its surrounding areas of Gurgaon and Noida, and a major contributing factor to the pollution is the smoke coming from the burning of crops in Punjab, which is still going on," New Delhi Environment Minister Imran Hussain explained at the beginning of November.
In response to the growing air crisis, officials have implemented certain restrictions and bans on vehicle usage, but many experts and environmentalists have criticized the government in the past for not doing enough to improve air quality until the solar center was revealed.
Before India revealed its ambitious energy production center, Topaz Solar Farm in California held the record as the largest single-location solar plant with a 550 MW capacity. That plant has nine million solar panels and spans 9.5 square miles, with enough energy to power 160,000 homes, notes Popular Mechanics.