According to the World Bank, more than 400 million people in India still live without electricity. This represents more than a third of India’s population. However, a proposed solar plant might be able to put a major dent in that number.

The plant is planned to triple India’s current capacity, and would be the largest solar plant ever built. Nature News reports that the plant will be ten times larger than any plant currently operating and will cover an area larger than Manhattan.

The project is a joint venture between multiple companies with the target price set at $4.4 billion. Planners estimate that the project will take 7 years to complete at a site in northern India.

The new solar plant is expected to produce 6.4 billion kilowatt hours per year, 2.2 billion more than the Hoover Dam in the U.S. However, it is only part of a larger, national commitment to solar power known as the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM).

In 2009, India embarked on a $19 billion initiative to become the global leader in solar power production. By 2020, they aim to have solar lighting available in 20 million households and to have reduced COemissions by nearly 50 million metric tons annually.

The World Bank and many others argue that without access to power: development, growth and prosperity are outside the grasp of those living in poverty. In India, nearly two-thirds of the population still lives on less than $2 a day. The government reports that roughly a third are below the poverty line, and of these, the vast majority live in rural areas.

For those living without power in India, the transition into the electric world will redefine their lives and create opportunity. From infrastructure development to studying for school at night, electric power is essential to becoming a developed economy.

Additionally, the development of clean energy resources that produce such tremendous amounts of energy (as the proposed plant) are likely to position India to help its poorest citizens rise from poverty.

Not only that, but sustainable practices will undoubtedly set a tone for India’s energy future. With developing nations currently atop the list of global polluters, it seems critical that changes be made in the practice of energy consumption.

– Chase Colton

Sources: Huffington Post, Huffington Post-2, World Bank, World Bank-2, Nature