The world’s biggest solar power plantsMichael Kibirige
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. Power-technology.com profiles the eight biggest solar power plants in the world.
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.
The ten largest solar power plants in the world
- Tengger Desert Solar Park, China – 1,547MW
- Sweihan Photovoltaic Independent Power Project, UAE – 1,177MW
- Yanchi Ningxia Solar Park, China – 1,000MW
- Datong Solar Power Top Runner Base, China – 1,070MW
- Kurnool Ultra Mega Solar Park, India – 1,000MW
- Longyangxia Dam Solar Park, China – 850MW
- Enel Villanueva PV Plant, Mexico – 828MW
- Kamuthi Solar Power Station, India – 648MW
- Solar Star Projects, US – 579MW
- Topaz Solar Farm / Desert Sunlight Solar Farm, US – 550MW
Topaz Solar Farm and Desert Sunlight Solar Farm, USThe Topaz solar farm is located in the north-western part of the Carrisa Plains in San Luis Obispo County, California, US. The 550MW plant was developed by First Solar and later acquired by BHE Renewables in January 2012. Commissioned in 2014, the project covers an area of 4,700 acres and is equipped with more than eight million solar modules. Topaz supplies electricity to approximately 180,000 households in California.
- Solar Star Projects, US
Solar Star Projects comprises two co-located projects, Solar Star 1 and Solar Star 2, in the Kern and Los Angeles counties, Rosamond, California, US. The two projects have a combined capacity of 579MW and comprise more than 1.7 million solar modules installed on 3,200 acres of land. They were developed by SunPower Corporation and owned by BHE Renewables.
- 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 plant is cleaned every day by a robotic system, which is charged by its 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.
- 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 can produce more than 2,000GWh a year.
- Longyangxia Dam Solar Park, China
The Longyangxia solar park has a capacity of 850MW, sufficient to power 200,000 households. The site sits on the Tibetan Plateau in northwestern China’s Qinghai province and spans 27km². The plant is installed with approximately four million solar panels and is operated by State Power Investment Corporation, one of China’s top five power generators.
- Kurnool Ultra Mega Solar Park, India
Kurnool solar park covers 5,683.22 acres (22.99km²) in the Kurnool district, Andhra Pradesh. With a total generating capacity of 1,000MW, the solar park was built with an investment of approximately $1bn.
The project was implemented by SBG Cleantech Project (350MW), Greenko Group (500MW), Azure Power (100MW), and Prayatna Developers (50MW). More than four million solar panels were installed in the park, each with a capacity ranging between 315W and 320W.
- 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 several smaller capacity projects.
A total of 1,070MW capacity was operational by 2016, while the development of an additional 600MW was announced.
- 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 fiber ring network. The central management of the power plant is through the FusionSolar Smart O&M cloud center, which utilizes cloud computing and big data to efficiently operate the plant through its 25-year life span.
- 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 a low cost of power generation.
- 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.