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OVERVIEW - US West Coast dominates world’s largest plants

Topaz solar farm. Featured image by Pacific Southwest Region USFWS. License: Creative Commons, Attribution 2.0 Generic .

In this month’s update Wiki-Solar’s Philip Wolfe looks at the world’s largest PV plants and reviews some emerging markets for utility-scale solar.

June 30 (SeeNews) - The 585-MW Solar Star project near Rosamond in Kern County California has now become the largest operating solar plant on the planet. We have taken this opportunity to look at the world’s most powerful PV stations.

Of the 12 plants over 200 MW alternating current (AC) listed below, three are in China; and all the others are in California or Nevada in the South Western USA.

Solar power plant Capacity (in AC)
Solar Star 584.9 MW
Desert Sunlight 563.4 MW
Topaz 549.8 MW
Copper Mountain 457.0 MW
Agua Caliente 358.0 MW
Longyangxia Solar-Hydro 272.0 MW
Turpan I 255.0 MW
Hongshagang I 255.0 MW
Arlington Valley 250.4 MW
California Valley 250.0 MW
Antelope Valley (AVSR1) 230.0 MW
Mount Signal I 206.0 MW

This list is restricted to individual projects; if we had also included clusters and portfolios of plants; Golmud Desert Cluster and Qili Photoelectricity Park in China, Charanka Solar Park in India and NorthEast Solar Farm in Thailand would have been added to the list.

EMERGING AND NON-EMERGING MARKETS

Next month’s blog is scheduled to include provisional half-year figures, inevitably focusing attention on the countries at the top of the ‘league table’. But there are interesting developments – and notable absentees – further down the list, so let’s examine them here.

In South and Central America, Chile’s march up the table has eclipsed steady progress in other countries. Both Mexico and Puerto Rico should be approaching 0.5 GW of capacity by the end of the year; while Honduras, Ecuador and Peru have each installed about 100 MW. Guatemala, Uruguay, Dominican Republic and Argentina all have some utility-scale capacity installed. However the sleeping giant is Brazil, with only 17 MW connected but potentially 4 GW in development.

Many of the oil-rich Middle Eastern countries have policies to increase deployment of solar, but only the UAE has significant capacity under construction. It also sponsored West Africa’s first utility-scale plant in Mauretania. Israel and Jordan have several projects active and more under development.

Europe has until recently led the world in total installed capacity, thanks to Germany, the Mediterranean countries, the UK and leading East European nations. Other wealthy European states have been notable by their absence. Belgium has only 14 MW of utility-scale solar installed, Switzerland just 4 MW; and the Netherlands, Austria and the Scandinavian countries have none at all.

The Russian Federation recently doubled its capacity to 9 MW, and has more under development. Turkey also has quite a number or utility-scale projects in development, but still (as far as we know) none yet connected.

In South East Asia the early adopters, Japan, Thailand and Korea have now been joined by the Philippines. Further down the list, Malaysia and Myanmar have projects under development, but Taiwan has only a single plant and Indonesia is notable by its absence.

OTHER RECENT UTILITY-SCALE PV PROJECTS AND DEVELOPMENTS

The Leyte I project in Ormoc, Leyte province was commissioned to become the second largest operating plant in the Philippines at 30 MW.

Other regional records were set by the completion of: a 100-MWp project near Jodhpur, the 42.5-MW ShuoZhou plant and 32-MW San Pedro III Phase 1. These have become the largest PV generating stations in respectively: Rajasthan (India), Shanxi (China) and El Loa (Chile).

The palace of the Jordanian Royal Court in Amman is now powered by a 5-MW solar power plant.

Source of data

All the details in these posts are based on the Wiki-Solar Database of some 4,500 utility-scale PV solar projects around the world. Unless otherwise stated, capacities are expressed in terms of the AC output of the plant, and ‘utility-scale’ is defined as projects of 4 MW AC and over.

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Philip Wolfe has been in renewables since the 1970’s when he was founder Chief Executive of BP Solar. He led companies in the PV sector until appointed Director General of the Renewable Energy Association from 2003 to 2009. His book on utility-scale solar was published in 2012.

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