Top 5: Largest solar farms in the world
Which solar farms are producing the most electricity for businesses and consumers around the world? Here are five of the most important sites.
5. Qinghai Golmud Solar Park
Qinghai Golmud Solar Park is situated in the Qinghai Province of China and has a 500MW capacity.
The solar park was built in 2009 and commissioned in October 2011 by Longyuan Power.
Phase-IV (which is currently under construction) will add another 60MW capacity to the site when it’s completed.
4. Longyangxia Dam Solar Park
Longyangxia Dam Solar Park is situated in the Yellow River in Gonghe County in China's Qinghai province.
Construction of the project started in March 2013 with Phase One and was finished within nine months. In December of the same year, the solar farm went online with a 320MW total capacity.
In August 2014, the construction of Phase Two started and was finished in the later months of 2015. This raised the total capacity to 530MW.
The solar project covers over nine square kilometres of land and forms part of one of the largest hybrid hydro-solar PV (photovoltaic) power stations on the globe.
3. Topaz Solar Farms
Topaz Solar Farms is located in San Luis Obispo County, California. It cost $2.5 billion to build and is spread over 24.6 square kilometres of land. It has a 550MW capacity, is owned by BHE Renewables and was developed by First Solar.
The farm has over nine million solar panels, which are all mounted at a 25-degree angle to ensure that they get the best sun exposure. The power created powers approximately 160,000 homes.
Construction of the farm started in November 2011 and was completed later in 2014.
The energy that is generated displaces roughly 377,000 tonnes of CO2 every year, which is equivalent to getting rid of 73,000 cars off the road.
2. Desert Sunlight Solar Farm
Desert Sunlight Solar Farm is located in Riverside County, California. The farm has a 550MW capacity and is built on over 15 square kilometres of land which is managed by the Federal Bureau of Land Management.
Phase One of the solar farm delivered a 300MW capacity and then later (in 2015), Phase Two added another 250MW of capacity; Totalling the full 550MW capacity.
Construction of the farm commenced in September 2011 and created more than 400 jobs for construction workers over a 26-month period.
The energy that is generated at the farm powers over 160,000 homes in the county.
1. Solar Star Projects
Solar Star Projects is currently the largest solar farm in the world with over 1.7 million solar panels. It is spread over 13 square kilometres of land near Rosamond, California and has a 579MW capacity.
Construction of the farm started at the beginning of 2013, was completed in 2015 and generated over 650 construction jobs.
The plant creates enough clean electricity to power nearly 255,000 homes.
Solar Star Projects produces enough electricity that would be the equivalent to removing more than two million cars off the road (over a 20-year period).
UK must stop blundering into high carbon choices warns CCC
The UK Government must end a year of climate contradictions and stop blundering on high carbon choices, according to the Climate Change Committee as it released 200 policy recommendations in a progress to Parliament update.
While the rigour of the Climate Change Act helped bring COP26 to the UK, it is not enough for Ministers to point to the Glasgow summit and hope that this will carry the day with the public, the Committee warns. Leadership is required, detail on the steps the UK will take in the coming years, clarity on tax changes and public spending commitments, as well as active engagement with people and businesses across the country.
"It it is hard to discern any comprehensive strategy in the climate plans we have seen in the last 12 months. There are gaps and ambiguities. Climate resilience remains a second-order issue, if it is considered at all. We continue to blunder into high-carbon choices. Our Planning system and other fundamental structures have not been recast to meet our legal and international climate commitments," the update states. "Our message to Government is simple: act quickly – be bold and decisive."
The UK’s record to date is strong in parts, but it has fallen behind on adapting to the changing climate and not yet provided a coherent plan to reduce emissions in the critical decade ahead, according to the Committee.
- Statutory framework for climate The UK has a strong climate framework under the Climate Change Act (2008), with legally-binding emissions targets, a process to integrate climate risks into policy, and a central role for independent evidence-based advice and monitoring. This model has inspired similarclimate legislation across the world.
- Emissions targets The UK has adopted ambitious territorial emissions targets aligned to the Paris Agreement: the Sixth Carbon Budget requires an emissions reduction of 63% from 2019 to 2035, on the way to Net Zero by 2050. These are comprehensive targets covering all greenhouse gases and all sectors, including international aviation and shipping.
- Emissions reduction The UK has a leading record in reducing its own emissions: down by 40% from 1990 to 2019, the largest reduction in the G20, while growing the economy (GDP increased by 78% from 1990 to 2019). The rate of reductions since 2012 (of around 20 MtCO2e annually) is comparable to that needed in the future.
- Climate Risk and Adaptation The UK has undertaken three comprehensive assessments of the climate risks it faces, and the Government has published plans for adapting to those risks. There have been some actions in response, notably in tackling flooding and water scarcity, but overall progress in planning and delivering adaptation is not keeping up with increasing risk. The UK is less prepared for the changing climate now than it was when the previous risk assessment was published five years ago.
- Climate finance The UK has been a strong contributor to international climate finance, having recently doubled its commitment to £11.6 billion in aggregate over 2021/22 to 2025/26. This spend is split between support for cutting emissions and support for adaptation, which is important given significant underfunding of adaptation globally. However, recent cuts to the UK’s overseas aid are undermining these commitments.
In a separate comment, it said the Prime Minister’s Ten-Point Plan was an important statement of ambition, but it has yet to be backed with firm policies.
Baroness Brown, Chair of the Adaptation Committee said: “The UK is leading in diagnosis but lagging in policy and action. This cannot be put off further. We cannot deliver Net Zero without serious action on adaptation. We need action now, followed by a National Adaptation Programme that must be more ambitious; more comprehensive; and better focussed on implementation than its predecessors, to improve national resilience to climate change.”
Priority recommendations for 2021 include setting out capacity and usage requirements for Energy from Waste consistent with plans to improve recycling and waste prevention, and issue guidance to align local authority waste contracts and planning policy to these targets; develop (with DIT) the option of applying either border carbon tariffs or minimum standards to imports of selected embedded-emission-intense industrial and agricultural products and fuels; and implement a public engagement programme about national adaptation objectives, acceptable levels of risk, desired resilience standards, how to address inequalities, and responsibilities across society.
Drax Group CEO Will Gardiner said the report is another reminder that if the UK is to meet its ambitious climate targets there is an urgent need to scale up bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS).
"As the world’s leading generator and supplier of sustainable bioenergy there is no better place to deliver BECCS at scale than at Drax in the UK. We are ready to invest in and deliver this world-leading green technology, which would support clean growth in the north of England, create tens of thousands of jobs and put the UK at the forefront of combatting climate change."
Drax Group is kickstarting the planning process to build a new underground pumped hydro storage power station – more than doubling the electricity generating capacity at its iconic Cruachan facility in Scotland. The 600MW power station will be located inside Ben Cruachan – Argyll’s highest mountain – and increase the site’s total capacity to 1.04GW (click here).
Lockdown measures led to a record decrease in UK emissions in 2020 of 13% from the previous year. The largest falls were in aviation (-60%), shipping (-24%) and surface transport (-18%). While some of this change could persist (e.g. business travellers accounted for 15-25% of UK air passengers before the pandemic), much is already rebounding with HGV and van travel back to pre-pandemic levels, while car use, which at one point was down by two-thirds, only 20% below pre-pandemic levels.