Solar is one of the fastest growing energy sources in the world, and with countries racing to assert their dominance in the burgeoning industry the leading nation is never clear for long. profiles the eight biggest solar power plants in the world.

Solar is one of the fastest-growing renewable energy sources in the world and, with countries racing to assert their dominance in the burgeoning industry, the leading nation is never clear for long.

The nations pulling ahead in the sunny sector are China and the US, which together account for two-thirds of the global growth in solar power.

Solar energy capacity has increased by approximately 60% over the last five years, rising to 485.82GW in 2018. But where are the biggest solar power plants? Power Technology profiles the biggest operational solar power plants in the world, based on installed capacity.

The ten largest solar power plants in the world

  1. Tengger Desert Solar Park, China – 1,547MW
  2. Sweihan Photovoltaic Independent Power Project, UAE – 1,177MW
  3. Yanchi Ningxia Solar Park, China – 1,000MW
  4. Datong Solar Power Top Runner Base, China – 1,070MW
  5. Kurnool Ultra Mega Solar Park, India – 1,000MW
  6. Longyangxia Dam Solar Park, China – 850MW
  7. Enel Villanueva PV Plant, Mexico – 828MW
  8. Kamuthi Solar Power Station, India – 648MW
  9. Solar Star Projects, US – 579MW
  10. Topaz Solar Farm / Desert Sunlight Solar Farm, US – 550MW

The world’s biggest solar power plants:

1.Topaz Solar Farm and Desert Sunlight Solar Farm, US

The Desert Sunlight Solar Farm is a 550 megawatt photovoltaic power station approximately six miles north of Desert Center, California, in the Mojave Desert. It uses approximately 8.8 million cadmium telluride modules made by the US thin-film manufacturer First Solar.

2.Solar Star Projects, US

The 579-megawatt Solar Star Projects are co-located solar installations in
Kern and Los Angeles counties in California. The projects deliver enough
electricity to power the equivalent of approximately 255,000 homes,
according to BHE Solar, a subsidiary of BHE Renewables, and owner of
the projects. The projects are creating more than $500 million in regional
economic impact, including the approximately 650 construction jobs
created over their three-year construction period.

3.Kamuthi Solar Power Station, India

The Kamuthi solar facility in Tamil Nadu, India, has a total generation capacity of 648MW. Covering 2,500 acres (10km²) and consisting of 2.5 million solar panels, the site is estimated to supply enough power for 750,000 people.

The Kamuthi solar power station was completed in September 2016 at a cost of approximately $680m. It was built in just eight months by a workforce of 8,500 people. The solar energy project included the construction of 38,000 foundations and utilises 6,000km of cables, 576 inverters, and 154 transformers.

The plant is cleaned every day by a robotic system, which is charged by its own solar panels. The power generated by the facility is evacuated to the 400kV Kamuthi substation operated by Tantransco and distributed to approximately 265,000 homes.

4.Enel Villanueva PV Plant, Mexico

Located in the Mexican state of Coahuila, the photovoltaic (PV) facility comprises more than 2.5 million solar panels installed across 2,400ha in the Mexican semi-arid region. The 828MW power plant became fully-operational in September 2018 and has the capacity to produce more than 2,000GWh a year.

The Enel Group invested approximately $710m in the construction of Villanueva. The plant’s initial capacity was 754MW, which was increased to 828MW following a 10% capacity extension option added to the energy sales contracts.

Enel deployed a unique pilot programme using digital technologies and automation for the plant’s construction. The programme included the use of GPS-controlled machines for moving the earth, drones for conducting 3D topography, and robots for automatic installation of panels.

5.Longyangxia Dam Solar Park, China

The Longyangxia Dam is a concrete arch-gravity dam at the entrance of the Longyangxia canyon on the Yellow River in Gonghe County, Qinghai Province, China. The dam is 178 metres (584 ft) tall and was built for the purposes of hydroelectric power generation, irrigation, ice control and flood control.

The dam supports a 1,280 MW power station with 4 x 320 MW generators that can operate at a maximum capacity of 1400 MW. Controlling ice, the dam controls downstream releases to reservoirs lower in the river, allowing them to generate more power instead of mitigating ice. Water in the dam’s 24.7 billion m3 reservoir provides irrigation water for up to 1,000,000 hectares (2,471,054 acres) of land.

6.Kurnool Ultra Mega Solar Park, India

Kurnool Ultra Mega Solar Park is a solar park spread over a total area of 5,932.32 acres (24.0072 km2) in Panyam mandal of Kurnool district, Andhra Pradesh, with a capacity of 1,000 MW. It was inaugurated by then chief minister of Andhra Pradesh Nara Chandrababu Naidu on Jan 8, 2019 .

 The park was built at an investment of around ₹7,000 crore (US$980 million) by solar power developers and the Central and State governments. Solar power developers invested ₹1,000 crore (US$140 million), while the remaining ₹6,000 crore (US$840 million) was funded by APSPCL supported by a ₹200 crore (US$28 million) grant from the Union Government

7.Datong Solar Power Top Runner Base, China

The Datong solar project is being developed in Datong City, Shanxi province, China. The project is part of China’s National Energy Administration’s plans to develop solar projects in the region. It includes the development of seven 100MW projects, five 50MW projects, and a number of smaller capacity projects.

Several companies including Datong United Photovoltaics New Energy, Datong Coal Mine Group, Huadian Shanxi Energy, JinkoSolar Holding, Yingli Green Energy, China Guangdong Nuclear Solar Energy, China Three Gorges New Energy, and State Power Investment are involved in the development of the solar power plants under the project.

A total of 1,070MW capacity was operational by 2016, while the development of additional 600MW was announced.

8.Yanchi Ningxia Solar Park, China

The Yanchi Ningxia solar park located in Ningxia, China, has an installed capacity of 1,000MW. Opened in September 2016, the plant is touted as the world’s biggest continuous solar PV array.

The power plant features Huawei’s SUN2000-40KTL and SUN2000-50KTL smart PV controllers and smart PV wireless transmission system, which uses a fibre ring network. The central management of the power plant is through the FusionSolar Smart O&M cloud centre, which utilises cloud computing and big data to efficiently operate the plant through its 25-year life span.

9.Sweihan Photovoltaic Independent Power Project, UAE

The Sweihan PV independent power project is located in Sweihan in Abu Dhabi, UAE. Covering an area of 7.8km², the plant has an installed capacity of 1,177MW.

The power plant was developed by a joint venture of Marubeni Corporation (20%), Jinko Solar (20%), and the Abu Dhabi Water and Electricity Authority (ADWEA, 60%) with an investment of $870m. It commenced commercial operations in April 2019 and supplies electricity to more than 195,000 homes.

Sweihan uses an innovative module layout design, high-efficiency monocrystalline solar modules, and advancements in project maintenance to ensure low cost of power generation.

10.Tengger Desert Solar Park, China

The Tengger solar park located in Zhongwei, Ningxia, dubbed the ‘Great Wall of Solar’, covers 1,200km of the 36,700km Tengger desert, occupying 3.2% of the arid region.

The 1,547MW plant is owned by China National Grid and Zhongwei Power Supply Company. Construction was started in 2012 and the power plant became operational in 2017. The project developers included Tianyun New Energy Technology, Beijing Jingyuntong Technology, Ningxia Qingyang New Energy, Qinghai New Energy, and Zhongwei Yinyang New Energy.

The solar park supplies green energy to more than 600,000 homes.


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