Solar power plant
The sun is reflected on solar panels which produce renewable energy, on the island of Eigg, Inner Hebrides, Scotland May 28, 2014.Reuters

Beas town in the district of Amritsar will now own the distinction of having the world's single largest rooftop solar power plant. Spread over a continuous stretch of 42 acres, the renewable energy plant will have a power generation capacity of 11.5 megawatt (Mw), said media reports.

Located on the outskirts of Beas town, the spiritual campus of Dera Baba Jaimal Singh has open sheds meant for 'sangat' (followers) to assemble. The solar unit has occupied the rooftops of this campus in a single stretch, reported the Times of India.

The project, inaugurated by Punjab Chief Minister Prakash Singh Badal, cost the state exchequer Rs. 139 crore and has taken six months to get completed. Besides the single stretch of 42 acres, the project extends by another 40 acres and includes seven other rooftop solar plants of 8 MW capacities, however, on multiple rooftops, said Business Standard. The total solar power generation capacity of the campus is 19.5 Mw, making it the country's single largest campus generating solar power, it added.

"There are other several 5 Mw rooftop plants in various countries, including USA and China but this is the largest one that produces 11.5 Mw electricity," an official from Punjab Energy Development Agency (PEDA) told TOI. The project was executed by Dera's own educational society in collaboration with PEDA. 

Punjab's Renewable Energy Minister, Bikram Singh Majithia, emphasised the environmental benefit of the project as huge. It can bring down 4 lakh tonnes of carbon di-oxide (CO2) in the next 25 years, roughly equivalent to planting 2 lakh trees, and has the potential to light up 8,000 homes, he told TOI.

Business Standard reported that Punjab's current solar power generation capacity is 470 Mw, with approximately 500 Mw projects in pipeline. The State is well placed to achieve 1,000 Mw of solar electricity by the end of financial year 2016-17. Majithia added that the state can contribute 2,252 Mw of solar power by 2022, the same year when the Modi government wants to achieve a target of 40,000 Mw from different resources of renewable energies.

Investment in the renewable energy sector in Punjab has surged from Rs. 82 crore in 2012 to nearly Rs. 10,000 crore today. It promises employment to 12,500 people, said the minister.

Punjab has commissioned its power projects on a 'build operate own' (BOO) model and entered into 25-year power purchase agreements with private players. The engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contractors for the Beas project were Tata Power Solar, and Larsen and Toubro.

PTI reports that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had given Punjab the best performing state award for capacity addition of solar energy during the Re-Invest-2015 Summit.