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Solar companies rolling out utility-scale plants like to say that theirs will be the "largest." When we're talking about the future, which has not yet materialized, it's fairly easy to make that claim as long as it is larger than anything that presently exists. Who actually ends up being the largest will be a matter of history once the future becomes the present. We've created this page (on Feb. 25, 2008) to track who is presently the largest, and whose claims to be the largest in the future are actually the biggest claims.



On Feb. 26, 2008, New Energy Congress member, Richard P. George, Ph.D. wrote:

The concept for this page is good but you need more and better data before you launch / promote this page.

For the manufacturers, you should do a survey of the websites of all of the major PV and solar concentrator vendors. 300 MWp per year capacity is common, 500 MWp is not uncommon, and I believe that Sharp has ~720 MWp manufacturing capacity.

For projects, you also need to survey the large integrators / developers such as MMA Resources, Sun Edison, DT Solar, etc.

Largest Solar Installations Worldwide

The items listed below are a beginning point of reference, and do not necessary represent the actual "largest" installations at present.

Latest Developments

  • Six New Solar Power Plant Plans Pulverize Old Records - All of these are either in the planning stages or in the very first phases of construction—it wouldn’t surprise if some of these plans get revised—but still, solar power plants that rival fossil fuel power plants in size is a huge boost for renewable energy. West Bengal, India, Mojave Desert, San Lois Obispo County, Las Vegas, NV, Gujarat, India, Zaragosa, Spain. (TreeHugger; Sept. 11, 2008)

Presently the Largest

  • Solar > PV > Largest >
    Worlds Largest Solar Plant Now In Ontario, Canada - Canada may not be the first place you would guess to have the world’s largest photovoltaic facility. However, the Canadian firm Enbridge Inc. and Arizona-based First Solar Inc.'s 80-megawatt Sarnia Solar Project is now the largest operational PV plant in the world. With 1.3 million modules spread over 950 acres of land, the project has the potential to supply the energy needs of up to 12,800 households. (Inhabitat: Oct. 1, 2010)
  • World’s Biggest Solar Farm at Centre of Portugal’s Ambitious Energy Plan - When fully commissioned later this year, the £250m farm set on abandoned state-owned land, is expected to supply 45MW of electricity each year, enough to power 30,000 homes. Each of the 2,520 giant solar panels is the size of a house and they are as technically sophisticated as a car. (The Guardian, UK; June 7, 2008)
  • Solar > Concentrated > Largest >
    Spain Plugs In World's Largest Solar Tower - The world's largest solar tower has started generating electricity in Seville, Spain. The PS20 plant has a capacity of 20 MW and will be able to power 10,000 homes. The plant is made up of 1,255 mirrors, each taking up 1,291 square feet, that focus solar radiation on a 531-foot tower. The heat boils water in the tower which creates steam. The steam then turns a turbine, making electricity. (EcoGeek; Apr. 28, 2009)
  • Kyocera announces 13.8-Megawatt Solar Electric Plant in Salamanca, Spain - One of the largest PV systems in the world will be commissioned September 18 (Its peak rated output of 13.8 megawatts.). It is comprised of ~ 70,000 Kyocera PV modules on a 36-hectares (89-acres), powering about 5,000 homes in a central distribution model. Kyocera plans to have capacity to produce 500 megawatts of PV modules per year by March 2011. (BusinessWire; Sept. 11, 2007)
  • World's Largest Solar Photovoltaic System Commissioned - Bavaria Solarpark was dedicated on June 30th. The project is fully constructed and operational with a total of 10 MW of power capacity via 57,600 silicone panels spread over 25 hectares on three solar parks. (Renewable Energy Access; July 11, 2005)
  • Solar Cooking > World's Largest Solar Kitchen - The solar kitchen has been set up at Taleti, India near Mount Abu, situated at a height of 1219 m above sea level in Rajasthan. The food is cooked in 200-400 liters capacity cooking pots, producing an average of 20,000 meals a day, and up to 38,500 meals per day during periods of peak solar radiation maximum. (Inhabitat; March 18, 2008)

Largest Corporate Installations

  • Google Ends Search for Solar Source - The headquarters of Google Inc. will soon become one of the largest solar powered corporate office complexes in the U.S. with a generation capacity of 1.6 megawatts, enough to supply about 30% of projected use at the administrative complex. (TreeHugger; Oct. 17, 2006) (PhysOrg)
  • FedEx Unveils California's Largest Corporate Solar-Power Installation - FedEx threw the switch Tuesday to activate its new solar system that is composed of more than 300,000 Sharp solar cells from Japan, installed into 5,769 photovoltaic modules that convert sunlight directly into electricity. The 904-kW system encompasses virtually the entire 81,000 square foot area of roof across the facility's two buildings. (BusinessWire; Aug. 9, 2005)

Largest Manufacturers at Present

  • German company opens US solar cell plant - SolarWorld founder Frank Asbeck, walked through North America's largest solar cell manufacturering plant Friday with the excitement of a child in a toy factory. The Hillsboro facility is expected to make enough cells to generate 500 megawatts of electricity a year, about as much as many coal- or natural gas-fired plants. (International Herald Tribune; Oct. 17, 2008)

National Bragging Rights

  • Solar >
    Portugal's Largest Solar Farm Opens - Portugal's Acciona Energy recently opened the country's largest solar power farm, executing the construction of the project in a record time of 13 months. The solar farm covers an area of 250 hectares, and outputs 48 MW from 2520 solar tracker devices. (EnergyMatters; Jan. 1, 2009)
  • Acciona Energia to Build Two 50-Megawatt Solar Thermal Power Plants in Spain - Acciona Energia's turn to announce a 500 million euros investment (about $775 million) into 2 new solar thermal plants in Palma del Río, Cordoba, in southern Spain. Each will have a capacity of 50 megawatts and together they should be able to power 75,000 homes, or 244 million kWh a year. They should be operational in 2010. (Treehugger; May 13, 2008)

Claiming to be the Largest in the Future

  • Solar > Largest >
    South Africa Unveils Plans For World’s Largest 5GW Solar Field - South Africa just unveiled their very own large-scale solar project – a 5GW solar field. The massive project would see solar panels installed across the Northern Cape province, which is one of the sunniest regions in the world. The $29.25 billion project could potentially generate a tenth of the country’s energy needs. The first 1 GW is expected to be done by the end of 2010. (Inhabitat; Oct. 28, 2010)
  • Top 100: Solar > Thin Film > First Solar >
    Chinese solar plant expected to be the biggest - Arizona company, First Solar, which makes more solar cells than any other company, said it struck a tentative 10-year deal to build a 25-square mile solar plant in China's vast desert north of the Great Wall, generating 2 gigawatts of electricity -- enough to power 3 million homes. (Salt Lake Tribune; Sept. 8, 2009)
  • Stirling Energy Systems - Two California facilities will have a combined production capacity of 1.75 Giga Watts -- the same as Hoover Dam. The first phase is expected to go online in Q4 2010, with completion a couple years later, making it the largest solar installation in the world.
  • World’s Most Ambitious Solar Plan in LA - The city of Los Angles, CA is taking up the world’s most ambitious solar power project, Solar LA (26-page PDF). This project will be the largest solar power plan started by any city in the world. They are planning to install 1.3 Giga Watts (GW) of solar power and register their city’s name in the book of green economy. (Alternative Energy; Dec. 19, 2008)
  • Army Looks to Build World's Strongest Solar Array - The US Army declared that it would "partner with the private sector to construct a 500-megawatt solar thermal plant at Fort Irwin, California, in the Mojave Desert, that will provide renewable power on the grid and provide the sprawling Army post with added energy security against disruption of power supply." (Wired; Oct. 7, 2008)
  • Australian firm unveils plans to build 'world's biggest thermal solar plant' - Peter Meurs, Managing Director of the Worley Parson's sustainability arm, has launched a study, backed by nine Australian companies including miners BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto, into finding possible sites to host the $1 billion plant. "It could provide power for 300,000 homes - each power station - and our vision is that Australia's a suitable place for this and we could build up to 34 of these power stations by 2020". (Peak Energy; August 12, 2008)
  • Kyocera announces 13.8-Megawatt Solar Electric Plant in Salamanca, Spain - One of the largest PV systems in the world will be commissioned September 18. It is comprised of ~ 70,000 Kyocera PV modules on a 36-hectares (89-acres), powering about 5,000 homes in a central distribution model. Kyocera plans to have capacity to produce 500 megawatts of PV modules per year by March 2011. (BusinessWire; Sept. 11, 2007)
  • The race to build the world's biggest solar power plant heats up - The race to build the world’s largest solar power plant continues with Arizona Public Service and Starwood Energy Group Global LLC unveiling plans for a 290-megawatt concentrating solar plant west of Phoenix. Named Starwood Solar, it will produce enough electricity to power more than 73,000 homes and is scheduled for completion by 2013. (GizMag; May 26, 2009)
  • California Dreamin' of miles of solar - A new project will place 250 megawatts of photovoltaic panels across 65 million square feet of unused commercial rooftops by Southern California Edison. It is the US's largest solar installation by a utility. (CleanTech; March 28, 2008)
  • CLP To Develop World's Largest Solar Power Station - An Australian subsidiary of CLP Holdings Ltd, the larger of Hong Kong's two power utilities, has agreed with Melbourne-based Solar Systems to develop the world's largest solar power station. ...subsequently investing up to A$285 million to build the remaining stages of the 154 megawatt project in northern Victoria, Australia, CLP said. (Reuters; February 26, 2008)
  • FP&L gets OK for three solar plants - The Florida Public Service Commission approved Florida Power & Light Co.'s request to build three solar power plants in Florida. The projects are expected to generate up to 110 megawatts of electricity. The Juno Beach-based utility said construction of the plants, slated to begin by the end of 2008, will make Florida the second largest supplier of utility-generated solar power in the nation. (South Florida Business Journal; July 15, 2008)

Largest Solar Buildings

  • Solar >
    Solar Powered Supertower to Eclipse the Burj Dubai? - Santa Monica building designer Tommy Landau is proposing a super-tall 224 story skyscraper to be located in Abu Dhabi. While the building is years away from being built, Landau is convinced that by that time technology will be advanced enough to coat the building in solar cells and power it completely with the sun. (Inhabitat; Sept. 17, 2009)

Largest Manufacturing

  • Solar > PV > Largest >
    Scaling Up Solar Power - Applied Materials has developed the equipment to produce extremely large photo­voltaic panels in order to lower the price of solar power in two ways. The equipment for manufacturing thin-film solar cells operates more efficiently when the panels are bigger. And larger modules need less hardware and labor to wire them together and support them. (MIT Technology Review; Mar/Apr 2010)

News Coverage


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See also





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