This research has finally
started to bear fruit, as
companies all around the world are now constructing some of the largest
solar power plants ever built, and the number of these huge solar
plants is sure to continue rising in the upcoming years.
Solar Energy Projects in
Europe is the worldwide
leader when it comes to producing solar energy. The
majority of the
world’s largest solar power plants are located in Europe, and that list
was recently added to when the Andasol
solar power plant in Spain
became operational in December 2011. Andasol is the world’s largest
solar power plant and utilizes over six
hundred thousand parabolic
mirrors to form a solar
Andasol is capable of
producing 150 megawatts of power, which is more than enough to provide
electricity for over 500,000 inhabitants. One of the most important
features of Andasol, and any other solar power station, is the ability
to cut down on CO2 emissions by producing clean energy. Andasol can
reduce CO2 emissions by up
to 500,000 tons per year which, when
combined with the other solar power stations, can help us take a huge
step in drastically reducing CO2 in the atmosphere.
In fact, Spain is the
location of four of the six largest solar power stations in the world,
and some regions of Spain are already able to cover over 50% of their
energy needs through solar or other clean forms of
other largest solar power stations are also located in Europe, with one
of them being the Waldpolenz Solar Park in Germany and the other
located in Portugal.
However, Andasol is
slightly different from the rest of these solar power stations, as the
rest relies on traditional photovoltaic solar panels
arranged in massive arrays.
The biggest criticism of
these plants is
that the solar arrays cover such a vast area of land, for the
relatively low energy output.
Solar Energy Projects in
California and the Mojave Desert
The Mojave Desert, like
all other deserts, is an ideal location for solar power plants due to
the climate and the high number of sunny days each year. This is why
there are so many solar power plants under construction in this area.
There are currently nine
solar plants running in the Mojave Desert
under the combined name of the Solar Energy Generating Systems or SEGS,
and these plants currently have an electricity output of around 350
megawatts, which combined makes them the largest solar
on the planet.
However, this is nothing
compared to the new plants which are currently being constructed in
this California desert. Google has invested $168 million to the Ivanpah
facility which is currently under construction and should be
operational sometime in 2013. This plant will utilize the world’s
largest solar thermal towers and has an expected output of almost 400
megawatts of electricity, which would more than double the output of
While this is quite
impressive, it’s still nothing when compared with the Blythe Solar
Power Station which is currently being built near Riverside,
California. When completed, this solar thermal power station is
expected to produce 968 megawatts of electricity, that’s almost one
gigawatt, which would further increase the energy generation
capabilities of SEGS to almost two gigawatts.
Solar Energy Projects in
the Rest of the World
There has been much talk
of the increased production of solar energy in India and China. Both
countries have been investing a large amount of money into solar power
plants, and there has been a lot of planning for some incredibly large
solar plants to be built in these countries. However, nothing compares
to the plans for the integrated
solar city that is in the planning
stages of being built in the Indian state of Gujarat.
This project is still very
much in the planning stages, and it has not yet been announced whether
this solar plant will utilize large solar panel arrays or solar thermal
collectors, or possibly a combination of the two.
currently are hoping this plant will be able to produce 5 gigawatts of
power (5000 megawatts) which would make it produce more than double the
energy of even the largest nuclear power plants. Like India, China has
very grand plans of their own for generating clean solar
March 2011, China announced plans to construct facilities capable of
generating over 235 million kilowatts of energy, and they believe that
they will be able to produce over 5 million kilowatts by 2015.
planning huge solar power stations in many of its more remote areas,
and if they are able to even come close to their goals, then they will
be far and away the world’s leader in solar energy production.
One of the biggest power
stations that they have announced is the solar farm that is currently
under construction in Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region. This plant is an
integrated solar combined cycle station (ISCC), which utilizes solar
thermal collectors, but also a gas fired turbine to increase its
efficiency. While this plant is not truly solar, the emissions it
releases will be very minimal.
This solar power station
hopes to be able to produce almost 100 megawatts of electricity when
construction is completed in 2013. The majority of China’s new solar
power stations will most likely be ISCCs or at least utilize solar
thermal collectors, and China hopes that this new plant can be a model
on which many new solar power stations are based.
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