In a northwestern corner of India, rows of steel and glass are rising from the ground to form what will be one of the largest solar power plants in Asia. The 250-megawatt project is the first in India for Silicon Valley-based Areva Solar, which is benefiting from an aggressive plan by the Indian government to boost solar energy generation to help reduce the country’s greenhouse gas emissions.
Areva engineers solar power plants that use flat mirrors to concentrate sunlight onto water-filled tubes to produce steam, which is then piped to run a turbine to generate electricity. This process is called concentrating solar thermal technology, and it’s being used in different configurations to build solar farms in the United States, particularly in states such as California and Arizona.
The company will complete the project in two phases, with the first 125 megawatts to come online in May 2013, said Jayesh Goyal, the company’s global vice president of sales. The second phase will start delivering power in late 2014 or early 2015.
“India is a market with a high electricity demand and a favorable regime for renewable energy,” Goyal said.