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Where are the biggest solar power plants in the world?

Posted by: Chloe Jordan

In the last five years solar energy capacity has increased globally by approximately 60%. But where are the largest solar power plants? WRS profiles some of the largest operational solar power plants in the world, based on installed capacity.

Enel Villanueva PV Plant, Mexico

Enel Groups Villanueva solar power plant is the largest photovoltaic installation in the Americas and the second largest in the world. Located in Coahuila, the photovoltaic (PV) facility comprises of more than 2.5 million solar panels installed across 2,400ha. The plant has been fully operational since 2018 and has the capacity to produce more than 2,000GWh a year.

For the plant’s construction, Enel implemented a unique pilot programme using automation and digital technologies. This included the use of GPS-controlled machines for moving earth, robots installing panels and drones for monitoring the work.    

Longyangxia Dam Solar Park, China

Four million solar panels span across 10 miles on the Tibetan Plateau in North Western China’s Qinghai providence. The solar power plant has an 850MW capacity which is enough to power 200,000 homes.

In 2013, phase one of the solar power plant was finished, with phase two being completed in 2015 and costing around $920m to construct. Huanghe Hydropower Development developed the project and has been integrated with the Longyangxia hydroelectric power station (1,280MW).

Kurnool Ultra Mega Solar Park, India

Covering 23km’s in the Kunrool District, Andhra Pradesh, the Kunrool solar park has a generating capacity of 1,000MW and cost approximately $1 billion to construct. The site is capable of generating a whopping eight million kWh of electricity, which is enough to power the entire electricity demand for the Kurnool district. Over four million solar panels have been installed in the solar power plant, each having a capacity ranging between 315W and 320W.

Four companies implemented the project – Prayatna Developers, Azure Power, Greenko Group and SBG Cleanteach Project.

Datong Solar Power Top Runner Base, China

Most solar power plants align their solar panels in rows and columns to form a grid. However, the Datong Solar Power Plant has been made in the shape of a Panda, spanning 100 hectares.

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 were 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.

Sweihan Photovoltaic Independent Power Project, UAE

Located in Sweihan in Abu Dhabi, UAE the solar power plant has an installed capacity of 1,177MW and covers an area of 7.8 km².

The solar power plant was developed in a joint venture between the Abu Dhabi Water and Electricity Authority (ADWEA, 60%), Jinko Solar (20%), and the Marubeni Corporation (20%), investing $870m collectively. The solar power plant supplies electricity to more than 195,000 homes and began commercial operations in April 2019.

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

Tengger Desert Solar Park, China

Located in Zhongwei, Ningxia, the Tengger Solar Park Covers an area of 43km² and has an installed capacity of 1,547MW. The plant is owned by the Zhongwei Power Supply Company and China’s National Grid. The solar park supplies green energy to over 600,000 homes.

Construction began in 2012 and the 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.

Pavagada Solar Park, Karnataka – India

Located in Pavagada, in the Tumkur District in India, the Pavagada Solar Park (also known as Shakti Sthala) has an installed capacity of 2GW making it the world’s biggest solar park.

The project was developed by Karnataka Solar Power Development Corporation Limited (KSPDCL), a joint venture between Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) and Karnataka Renewable Energy Development Limited (KREDL), with an estimated investment of $2.5bn.

With the commissioning of the last 100MW of the solar project by SB Energy in December 2019, the world’s biggest solar park became fully operational.

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