Despite growing interest in solar power in the U.S., the world’s largest photovoltaic installations are in Spain and Germany. While larger installations are underway in the U.S., they have yet to come online. Southern California Edison is working to install 500 megawatts of photovoltaic panels on warehouses in southern California, the first of which will start coming online in 2011. The company says the installations will produce solar at about $3.50 per installed watt, compared to the state average of $7 per watt.
Photo from Nobesol
1. In 2010, the largest operating photovoltaic installation is a 60 megawatt (MW) plant in Olmedilla, Spain. Parque Fotovoltaico Olmedilla de Alarcón produces about 87.5 gigawatt hours a year, enough to power 40,000 homes. The plant was completed in 2008, has 270,000 photovoltaic modules and was built in 16 months. It cost 384 million euros to build.
Photo from Q-Cells
2. The next largest plant is the Strasskirchen Solar Park in Straßkirchen, Germany. It’s a 54 MW photovoltaic plant that was completed in 2009. The plant is capable of producing enough power for roughly 15,000 homes in Germany. The farm has about 225,000 solar modules and covers 135 hectares of land. It abates 35,000 tons of carbon dioxide each year.
Photo from Juwi
3. At just one megawatt less, Solarpark Lieberose in Germany comes in at the third largest photovoltaic plant. With 53 megawatts installed, the solar farm can power about 15,000 homes. The Lieberose solar farm was built by Juwi on 163 hectares. The developers have a 20 year contract, after which the installation will be dismantled. The project was developed by Juwi and cost 180 million euros.
Photo from SkyPhotoFactory
4. Spanish photovoltaic farm Parque Fotovoltaico Puertollano is the fourth biggest photovoltaic plant in operation in 2010 at 57.6 MW. The plant uses 231,653 fixed panels, oriented at a 33 degree angle and facing south to maximize their generating capacity.
Photo from Acciona
5. Right now the Moura Photovoltaic Power Plant in Moura, Portugal is the fifth largest photovoltaic plant in the world, with 46 MW installed. However, the plant will become the world’s largest by the end of 2010, when 20 more megawatts of photovoltaics are installed in its second stage. With nameplate capacity of 46 MW, the plant already produces 93 gigawatt hours annually, according to Acconia, which owns the plant. It uses solar trackers and is able to produce so much because it’s in one of Europe’s sunniest places.
6. Germany’s 45 MW Köthen photovoltaic power plant, was completed within one-year of ground-breaking, according to RGE Energy AG, which owns the project. The plant was built on a former airfield. It has 205,000 photovoltaic panels.
Photo from Q-Cells
7. Q-Cell SE, which installed the Strasskirchen Solar Park also installed the Finsterwalde Solarpark in Germany. It’s a 42MW solar farm.
8. At 40MW, the Waldpolenz Solarpark in eastern Germany, is eighth on the list. This thin-film photovoltaic plant, built by Juwi, can power about 10,000 homes and eliminates about 25,000 tons of carbon dioxide annually.
9. Solar farm, Planta Solar La Magascona & La Magasquila in Trujillo, Spain, produces 34.5 MW of photovoltaic power. The installation was completed in 2008.
10. Generating 34MW of photovoltaic power, the Planta Solar Arnedo in Arnedo, Spain tops out the top 10 in 2010.