Imagine a surface of 9.5 square miles filled with 9 million thin film solar modules and you’ll get an impression of what the world’s largest solar plant, Topaz Solar Farm, looks like. This 2-billion-dollar mega-construction is the world’s largest solar plant. Its current capacity is 300 MW, but will be extended to 550 MW over the course of this year, meaning that it will be able to provide electricity for an impressive total of 160.000 households.
The Top 10 shows that the USA is dominating the large-project game with four American projects listed, whose accumulated construction costs exceed 6,4 billion dollars. China and Germany are also prominently featured, listing two projects each, with accumulated capacity of 400 MW and 317 MW respectively. India has dynamically stepped into the game with its Neemuch (151 MW) and Charanka Solar Park (241 MW), an ongoing construction in the Gujarat province of India which is planned to reach a capacity of 500 MW this year. This is in accordance with the Indian solar industry’s expectations of an addition of 2.8 GW to the country’s solar capacity within 2014.
Solarplaza’s overview shows that First Solar (USA) is the leading developer and module provider up to this point, having developed the world’s two largest solar plants, comprising 27% of the total capacity of the Top 10. While First Solar is a CdTe thin film module manufacturer, major crystalline silicon (c-Si) modules manufacturers, like SunPower (USA) and Sky Solar (CN) also have a strong presence in the solar PV industry. In fact, SunPower is currently working on enormous projects, such as Solar Star and Antelope Valley Solar Ranch One, which will reach 579 MW and 500 MW respectively. As provided by the data of the Top 10, the use of both technologies is divided, with c-Si modules accounting for 55% of the total capacity and CdTe for the other 45%.
It is noticeable that there is a huge leap in capacity if we compare the current list with the Top 10 of January 2012 . Back then, the largest solar PV plant had a capacity of just 100 MW (Perovo, Ukraine), meaning that today it doesn't even make it to the Top 10 list. The total capacity of the Top 10, which now enumerates 2057 MW, is more than double than that of 2012, namely 773 MW. In 2012, most of the largest projects were located in Europe, while North America and Asia are now picking up speed with larger projects. After only two years, there has been a radical growth in the industry, mainly due to the active involvement of the new emerging markets and to the competitiveness of the developers, both factors that have set the expectations higher. That can also be seen from the fact that three of the projects listed are due to expand. Specifically, Charanka Solar Park is scheduled to expand to 500 MW, Topaz Solar Farm to 550 MW and Mesquite Solar is under development for reaching a total of 700 MW. Plans like that don’t leave the solar experts indifferent and everyone involved in the industry has a keen eye of watching the projects reaching unprecedented numbers in capacity.
This Top 10 list is filled with impressive numbers and facts, like the accumulative construction costs of the projects that surpass 7.5 billion dollars. There is no doubt, that over the last years the solar industry has grown, developed and entered a stage of maturity, with certain companies dominating, large-scale projects developing and ongoing investments taking place. Public sectors are more involved in the use of solar energy, as the buyers of 60% of the projects listed are governmental or public utilities. However, the current Top-10 is likely to change again soon. Apart from the expansions of the existing plants, new record breaking developments like a 1000 MegaWatt project have been announced. It seems that the rapidly maturing solar industry still has an incredible potential ahead. Solarplaza will keep you updated soon with separate Top-10s of the projects being constructed and announced.
Full Top30 overview
We didn't stop at 10 and have actually made an extended Top30, which is freely available upon leaving your contact details.
For some more eye-candy and amazing views of these giga-plants, see below.
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For a video on the Neuhardenberg project, please visit: http://enerparc.de/index.php/en/projects/neuhardenberg
This overview was compiled using public sources, freely available to all.
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