The world’s largest solar park ‘Shakti Sthala’ is being built in rural Karnataka and has begun partial operations this last month. Covering 13000 hectares of land, it will generate 2000 megawatts of electricity when completed at the end of this year. This is part of a unique plan by the Indian Government to lease, rather than buy, land from 2300 farmers. They will be paid Rs 21,000 per acre of land every month which is more than double their average income from farming.
While also making farmers key partners and beneficiaries, the project also creates employment opportunities for others. What is more, the project is based in an area which has faced several decades of drought and crop failures which may significantly stem migration flow to cities. Karnataka’s Chief Minister Siddaramaiah has stated that ‘In future, Karnataka aims to be an energy-surplus state’. Despite the current claims of being world’s largest solar park, this is set to be eclipsed by Rajasthan’s Bhadla solar park which is expected to have a capacity of 2255 megawatts when fully operational.