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Published on March 5th, 2008 | by Gavin Hudson

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World’s 13 Biggest Solar Energy Plants, Photovoltaic

International demand for solar energy has been steadily growing by 20-25% a year for the past two decades. In the United states, solar energy growth is about 60% a year. Looking at how fast solar energy plants are growing and how large they’re becoming year by year is reveals that the future for solar is shining bright.

World’s Largest Photovoltaic (PV) Solar Power Plants (Proposed and Operational)

deming-new-mexico-usa.jpgBy 2011, Deming, New Mexico, USA will be the home of the world’s largest solar power plant. This 300 Megawatt solar facility will be 15 times the size of the current largest solar plant on the planet. New Solar Ventures and Solar Torx are the companies behind the project. The solar energy plant will cover as many as 1,300 hectares and employ between 300 and 400 people. The project’s planners estimate that the plant will supply enough energy to power 240,000 homes. (Photo: Flickr. Source: Reuters.)

solana-arizona-usa.jpg The Solana solar plant, 70 miles from Pheonix, near Gila Bend, Arizona, USA, will compliment the Deming plant when both begin operations in 2011. It will produce 280 megawatts of energy, provide 1,500 jobs, and cover an area of 769 hectares. The solar power facility will be the child of Abengoa Solar and Arizona Public Service Company. However, the project depends on the United States Congress to renew clean energy tax credits, which would otherwise expire at the end of 2008. (Photo: APS. Source: Newlaunches via EcoFuss.)

mildura-australia.jpgAustralia may briefly capture the prize for biggest solar with a plant near Mildura, Victoria, Australia. It will go into operation in 2010 and continue to grow in size until its completion in 2013. A project of TRUenergy and Solar Systems, the plant will generate 154 Megawatts of solar energy. With the Mildura plant complete, Solar Systems will continue to expand in Australia with the goal of 270,000 megawatts of output from a number of plants. Australia’s renewable energy goal is 20% by 2020. (Photo: Wikimedia. Source: Herald Tribune.)

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fresno-california-usa.jpgAn 80 megawatt solar farm in Fresno, California, USA will be completed by 2011. Cleantech, together with the California Construction Authority, will be responsible for construction. When finished, the plant will occupy about 260 hectares. It will be called the Kings River Conservation District Community Choice Solar Farm. In addition to this solar farm, Cleantech is in the preparing to develop several other facilities of a similar size also in California. In addition to these centralized solar energy plants, California’s Governor Scharzenegger pushed through legislation by the name of SB 1 with which California will add solar panels to one million roofs throughout the state by 2018. (Photo: Wikimedia. Source: Reuters.)

brandis-rhineland-palatinate-germany.jpgThe Waldpolenz Solar Park in Brandis, Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany, near Leipzig. It’s located on the site of a former military airfield. Talk about swords to plowshares. Now that the PV plant has received building approval, its construction is underway. Juwi Solar, the company spearheading the construction, has set a goal of completion of the plant for 2009. At that time, the facility will be able to generate 40 megawatts. (Photo, source: Juwi Solar, PDF, via PV Resources)

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jumilla-murcia-spain.jpgThe solar power plant in Jumilla, Murcia, Spain is currently one of the two largest solar energy plant in the world. It produces 20 megawatts with 120,000 PV panels. The panels are spread over an area of 100 hectares and provide enough electricity for the equivalent of about 20,000 houses. With construction recently finished, the plant is expected to generate $28 million USD. The project was completed by Luzentia Group with help from Elecnor’s solar industry Atersa. The solar plant was built over 11 months with 400 people in an area that locals say is perfect since it receives about 300 days of sun a year. (Photo, source: Technology for Life via EcoFuss.)

beneixama-alicante-spain.jpg The other record holder for large PV plants is in the same country, in Beneixama, Alicante, Spain. The plant opened in the summer of 2007. It produces 20 megawatts with 100,000 polycrystalline City-Solar-Modules, City Solar’s own version of PV panels. (Photo: City Solar. Source City Solar via PV Resources.)

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jeollanam-do-south-korea.jpgBy late 2008, Sinan, Jeollanam-do, South Korea plans to match Spain’s solar energy output of 20 megawatts. 109,000 solar panels are expected to by installed. Working with SunTechnics, the solar project is part of South Korea’s Act on Climate Change. The country currently generates electricity with about 50% Middle Eastern oil, 25% coal, 22% nuclear, natural gas, and hydroelectric, and just 2.3% renewable. The goal is 9% by 2030. News of the solar farm coincides with South Koreas announcement that they will also be building one of the world’s largest tidal energy plants by 2014. (Photo: Flickr. Source: Herald Tribune.)

las-vegas-nevada-usa.jpgThis 14.2 megawatt solar park in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA is operated by SunPower. It’s located at the Nellis Air Force Base, which it powers. This saves the Air Force base an estimated $1 million USD annually in energy costs. The solar array covers an area of over 56 hectares and comprises 70,000 PV panels. (Photo: SunPower. Source: SunPower, PDF, via PV Resources.)

salamanca-salamanca-spain.jpgAnother accolade for big solar in Spain goes to the plant 12 miles outside of Salamanca, Salamanca, Spain. The solar field incorporates 70,000 PV panels from the Japanese Kyocera Corporation into three separate 36-hectare arrays. The total energy output is 13.8 megawatts. The plant opened in September, 2007, with a grand inauguration in Salamanca. It’s been powering roughly 5,000 homes ever since. (Photo: Kyocera. Source: Kyocera via PV Resources.)

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lobosillo-murcia-spain.jpgSunny Spain captures another solar opportunity in the PV plant at Lobosillo, Murcia, Spain. The PV plant has a 12.7 megawatt output. The solar project is currently in operation, and is also being expanded from 80,000 PV panels to 80,808. The plant uses PV panels from Ecostream. (Photo: Ecostream. Source Ecostream via PV Resources.)

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.arnstein_-bavaria-germany.jpg
The “solar park” in Arnstein, Bavaria, Germany went into full scale operation in 2006. It features over 1,400 PV solar panels that can move with the angle of the sun to capture maximum light energy. This design allows the panels to capture up to 35% more energy. The plant, which took 14 months to build, currently produces 12 megawatts of energy. The solar power company involved with this plant is Solon AG. Germany is also a leader in renewable energy. The country increased its stock in renewables from 6.3% in 2000 to 12% in 2006. With this in mind, some predict 40% renewables by 2020. (Photo: Ubergizmo. Source: The Raw Story.)

serpa-alentejo-portugal.jpgThe solar energy farm on the hills outside Serpa, Alentejo, Portugal, on the sunny southern coast, helps make Portugal the renewable energy leader it is. The location is ideal as the area receives 3,300 hours of sunlight a year. The 11 megawatt power plant opened in March of 2007. Its 52,000 PV modules span over 60 hectares. They produce enough energy for about 8,000 homes. PowerLight, the company that operates the solar farm, estimate that energy produced by their panels prevents 30,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions each year from burning fossil fuels for energy. In addition to this plant, Portugal will invest $10.8 billion USD in renewable energy. (Photo: Flickr. Source: Electrical Contractor.)





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About the Author

Gavin blogs from Zurich, Switzerland. His day job is Digital Media Communications Manager for ABB. Previously, he lived and worked in South Korea, blogging, editing and freelance writing for Green Options and PV Magazine. Gavin's favorite environmental work has included: co-founding the grassroots Nature Conservation Club at about age 8; interning for the Jane Goodall Insitute's Roots & Shoots (R&S) program; representing R&S at the World Social Forum VI in Caracas, Venezuela; volunteering at the Marine Mammal Center of Sausalito; being a research assistant for a CAL lab studying climate change in Colorado; bicycling lots.



  • http://cleantechnica.com/2008/02/22/acciona-dedicates-us-first-new-concentrated-solar-plant-in-16-years/ Tim Hurst

    Gavin,
    You omitted the concentrating solar plant that was built by Acciona and completed last Spring outside of Las Vegas Nevada. The plant has a 64 MW capacity. I wrote about it at
    CleanTechnica

  • http://greenoptions.com/author/gavinhudson Gavin Hudson

    Thanks Tim. I’ll add it in. It was very difficult to find the 10 biggest since this seems to be the first such list. Solar stations are being built so rapidly that at least a half a dozen are staking claims to the accolade of “largest in the world.”

  • Mike

    The Acciona plant is there at #5…

    You are missing quite a few though:

    Largest PV:
    http://www.pvresources.com/en/top50pv.php

    Largest CSP:
    http://solarpaces.org/News/Projects/_projects.htm

  • http://www.alyra.net Mohammed Alam

    Correction:
    SolarTres is not built yet. I do not think it is in construction yet.

    Missing:
    PS10, 1n 11 MW solar tower ouside of Seville, Spain was completed in 2007 by Abengoa. A sister project PS20, a 20 MW plant next to PS10 is under construction.
    The SEGS projects (about 350 MW in total) in CA built in the 80s.
    Nellis Airforce Base – PV project by MMA
    Exel Energy PV project in CO by SunEdison

  • Philipp

    I found the following website quite good, that focuses on the sites which are already up and running and is limited to PV at

    http://www.pvresources.com/en/top50pv.php

    It would certainly be interesting to have two lists next time one for solar thermal and one for photovoltaics.

  • http://www.me.com Me

    What about Barstow, isn’t that 354 MW?

  • http://cleantechnica.com/2008/02/22/acciona-dedicates-us-first-new-concentrated-solar-plant-in-16-years/ Tim Hurst

    Precisely. It’s a “Public Relations” race more than a physical one.

  • http://greenoptions.com/author/gavinhudson Gavin Hudson

    Thank you all for your feedback. The list should be up to date and fully accurate now. Also, I’ve removed the consentrated solar and will compile a list of CSP in another article.

  • http://www.envirobama.com/greenmatters GreenMatters08

    GREEN MATTERS: We are the change we’ve been waiting for!

    PURPOSE: The “Green Matters” event is a grassroots organized one-day mass donation with the sole purpose of bringing the ENVIRONMENT into the forefront of the 2008 Presidential race.

    HOW IT WORKS: The “mainstream media” has proven in this election cycle that they will cover how much money the Presidential candidates can, or have raised. Therefore, a massive donation organized around environmental issues, by individuals concerned with the state of the planet, and on a nationally celebrated day of environmental awareness (Earth Day) will penetrate the national dialogue, once again moving the environment to the forefront of Presidential politics.

    WHO BENEFITS: Everyone benefits when our environmental issues are discussed on a national stage, therefore anyone concerned about the future of our planet is encouraged to participate in this event regardless of race, age, gender, or political affiliation. However, this event has been organized by independent grassroots supporters of Barack Obama and all donations benefit the Obama campaign. As President, Barack Obama will reduce carbon emissions, encourage developments in clean energy, support next generation biofuels, work to gain oil independence, improve energy efficiency in buildings and restore U.S. leadership on climate change.

    By making the Green Matters pledge, you will receive an e-mail reminder the day of donation, Earth Day – April 22nd, 2008.

    You are the change the Earth’s been waiting for…make the pledge now at http://www.envirobama.com/greenmatters and on Earth Day 2008 tell the world that Green Matters!

    Visit http://www.envirobama.com for in-depth discussion about Barack Obama’s environmental record and policy proposals.

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  • http://www.solutions4healthyliving.com Winifred Churchill

    I am really amazed at the number of solar plants in operation or coming in the next few years. I have just started learning about photovoltaics and what it takes to utilize solar energy in homes. While individuals choosing to ‘go green’ one by one is exciting, it is even more exciting to realize that we may actually begin to REALLY replace fossil fuels, not only in homes, but in manufacturing and other applications that use much more energy.

  • Pingback: Mega Solar: the World’s 13 Biggest Solar Thermal Energy Projects : EcoWorldly

  • http://www.enterprisingenergy.com/ Enterprising Energy

    The info in the post above has been very helpful as well as the post about the largest solar heat sites.

    I hope that in the future the projects are taken on in a community ownership model such as a community co-op or social enterprise model.

  • Joao P Bastos

    Accuracy: “the quality or state of being correct or precise.”

    What about Moura?

    http://mouraviva.blogs.sapo.pt/arquivo/1045983.html

    Best regards,

    Joao P Bastos

  • Pingback: Politics in the Zeros » World’s biggest solar photovoltaic projects

  • Ken Sawilchik

    I was doing some research on the Deming, New Mexico project and could not find any information more recent than 2006.

    Could you direct me to any more recent information regarding the progress of this porject?

  • Chris Brown

    I am also doing some research on the Deming, New Mexico project. I have read a couple of articles about financial problems with the financiers, especially the Solar Torx people. Feel free to e-mail at browcr23@gmail.com and I can send you the articles. I still can’t find anything that confirms that the project is on hold due to finance problems.

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  • http://roqnrol chip

    Thank you Gavin!

  • Thomas J. Setter

    These are all great. We need to aggressively build more. In Arizona we should be 100% free of oil by 2015.
    We just need the will to switch. The technology is only going to get better. 8th graders building SOLAR cars will help.
    Hydrogen should be the Fuel of choice.
    WE CAN DO IT!!!

  • Tim

    I realize I’m a little late here, but I believe Solana isn’t a photovoltaic plant, but a solar thermal plant, as is Seville’s PS10 mentioned by commentor Mohammed Alam.

  • http://greenoptions.com/author/gavinhudson Gavin Hudson

    @Tim: Yes, I added Seville’s solar thermal power station to the post on the biggest solar thermal plants: http://ecolocalizer.com/2008/04/12/mega-solar-the-worlds-13-biggest-solar-thermal-energy-projects/

    Looking at the photo of the Solana plant closely, you’re right that there appear to be parabolic troughs. From the research I did for this article, though, I now realize that it’s unclear in my sources whether this is a PV or a solar thermal plant. Can you point me to your sources and maybe I can make a correction?

  • http://www.nmdc.co.in S.k.bhattacharya

    CAN ANY BODY PROVIDE ME THE NAME OF THE TECHNOLOGY
    PROVIDERS FOR PHOTOVOLTAIC SOLAR PLANT AS WELL AS THERMAL PROJECTS AND ECONOMICS ETC.

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  • http://www.palpitar.net/ Palpitar

    Brilhante.Sou fa deste blogue.Inspira-me para escrever as minhas piadas no palpitar.netVoltarei :-)

  • peon

    Hi. Iam responsable for the aquisition department of spanish commpany in México and i am looking for the best supliers for a new solar plant.
    Can you tell me something about the supliers of this sector.
    tks

    • http://www.fator.es Hans Goldsmits

      Peon,
      We are working with solar plant construction companies, actually on a project in Arizona with a Mexican company which belongs to a large Spanish power company.
      We have good chances to be supplier for an other project in California, also build by a Spanish Co.
      We provide all the fasteners for the structures. We are based in Spain and work with the latgest Spanish Power companies and are very interested in growing our business in USA or Mexican projects.
      If you`d like more info, let me know and I`ll be glad to contact you.

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  • Simos Nicolaoy

    Very roughly, what would be the cost fo
    a solar plant expected to cover 30000
    homes.
    Simos N.
    Cyprus

  • http://ecoworldly.com/2008/03/05/worlds-7-biggest-solar-energy-plants/ rishabh

    india also not lack in the terms of solar energy . in tirupati we have the world’s largest kitchen powered by the solar energy.

  • NIck Bradshaw

    I have been reading on the prospect of adding natural gas and fossil fuel to solar plants to enable plants to run 24/7. It should be concidered that using algea to turn the CO2 back into oxygen should be seriously looked into.

  • hekmat

    very interesting i would like to build up station for my house if poosible pls advise as cost of electricity out of handsa with thanks .
    hekmat

  • http://wwwkarimassociates.org fayyaz Ahmad

    we are entering in to an agreementjoint venture with government of pakiostan of 50 billions us$ and we need 10 nos solar energy plants 1000 mega watts capacity in different cities of pakistan. please provide the cost of each solar energy plant.

    • Hans Goldsmits

      Fayyaz, tell me more, I might be able to put you in contact with large solar plant builders.

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  • http://tamang_rajulama@hotmail.com raju

    dear sir,.
    this is raju lama from nepal and i would like say that can we open solar company in nepal through your company ..

  • http://Web suchart

    Lopburi solar is under construction,almost completed, about 84 MW, located 2 hours drive,north of Bangkok, Thailand.

  • http://-- Dr. Issa

    The Köthen Solar Park is a photovoltaic power station in Köthen, Germany. It has a capacity of 45 MWp and an annual output of 42 GWh. The solar park is developed and built by Deutsche Eco, Frankfurt Main, Germany (former RGE Energy).

    The PV project is built on a former military airfield in Köthen on 116 hectares (290 acres). The project is the largest solar power plant in Saxony-Anhalt and the world’s largest with string inverters. The project is equipped 205.000 crystalline photovoltaic modules of BP Solar. The total investment in the project was around €133 millions. The solar park was connected to the grid in 2009

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