Following 2015’s Paris Climate Accords, many solar power plants and farms have popped up all across the globe. Governments ate attempting to reach their clean energy goals. Solar power plants play vital roles in these attempts to reduce global carbon emissions.
Here, we discuss five of the world’s biggest and most ambitious solar plants. But, before we review the largest solar power plants in the world, let’s explore how these plants work in general.
How Do Solar Power Plants Work?
Solar power plants convert energy from the sun into electricity in two ways –
- Using photovoltaic, PV, or “solar cells”: PV cells are made of silicon alloys. When photons (particles of solar energy) strike the surfaces of PV cells, they create photoelectric effects. The PV cells absorb the photons and, in return, release electrons. The released electrons become electric currents.
- Using Solar Thermal Power Plants:Solar thermal plants concentrate the sun’s energy to build steam. This steam is fed to turbines and generators which produce electricity.
Most of the world’s biggest and most ambitious solar plants use both these techniques to generate clean electricity.
1. Bhadla Solar Park, Rajasthan, India
With an overall capacity to produce over 2250 megawatts (2.25 gigawatts) of electricity – the Bhadla Solar Park in Rajasthan, India, is the largest solar power plant in the world. This solar power plant is spread across 14,000 acres. It’s located in Bhadla, a small village in Rajasthan’s Jodhpur district. This fully operational power plant took years to develop.
- The initial phase of the Bhadla Solar Park has seven solar power plants. Their combined capacity is 75 megawatts.
- The secondary phase of the solar power park features ten solar power plants. Their combined capacity of 680 megawatts.
- Phase three has ten solar power plants. Their combined capacity is 1000 megawatts.
- Phase four also has ten solar power plants. Their combined capacity is 500 megawatts.
- A state-owned transmission company developed the power evacuation system of the Bhadla Solar Park in Rajasthan. The company delivers power to the local state electricity boards.
After five years of construction, the Bhadla Solar Park was finally commissioned in 2020.
2. The Huanghe Hydropower Hainan Solar Park, Qinghai, China
With an overall capacity to produce over 2200 megawatts (2.2 gigawatts) electricity, the impressive Huanghe Hydropower Hainan Solar Park in China’s Qinghai Province is second on this list.
Don’t get confused by the word “hydropower” in the name of this solar park. It comes from the company that developed this project, Huanghe Hydropower Development. Otherwise, the Huanghe Hydropower Hainan Solar Park has nothing to do with hydropower and everything to do with solar power.
- The plant was built in five phases. It was commissioned in September 2020. The park’s current capacity is 2200 megawatts. The ultimate goal is to reach a capacity of 16000 megawatts (16 GW).
- The park also boasts 202.8 megawatts/megawatt-hours (MW/MWh) of storage capacity.
- The site is connected to an 800-kV ultra-high voltage power transmission line. This line connects the solar power plants to various Southern and Eastern cities in China, including Beijing and Shanghai.
3. Pavagada Solar Park, Karnataka,India
Third, on the list, the Pavagada Solar Park in Karnataka, India, boasts a capacity of 2050 MW (2.05 GW). It spans over 13,000 acres of drought-hit land in Pavagada – a small village in the south Indian state of Karnataka.
The solar farm spans over five villages and produces enough electricity to power over 700000 homes.
In terms of operation, this solar park operates in the same way as the Bhadla Solar Park. It features both PV cells and solar thermal plants.
4. Benban Solar Park, Benban, Egypt
The Benban Solar Park in Benban, Egypt, is Africa’s largest solar power plant. It’s located south of Cairo and has a capacity of 1650 MW (1.65 GW). It was launched in 2019.
- The park features a complex system of 41 solar power plants.
- This solar photovoltaic park can produce up to 4TWh of power and prevent two million tons of CO2 emissions every year.
- Each plant is equipped with PV cells mounted fixed frames. PV cell sizes range from 2000 mm x1000 mm to 1200 mm x600 mm.
- The arrays of PV cells are connected to inverters that convert the direct current power to alternating current power (DC-AC). The energy is then transferred via transformers to the local power grids for distribution.
5. Tengger Desert Solar Park, Ningxia, China
Last on the list is Tengger Desert Solar Park, located in Ningxia, China. It has a capacity of 1550 MW (1.55GW facility). It spans 1200km over the Tengger desert. This solar power plant went active in 2017 and is currently supplying energy to over 600,000 homes.
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