Solar power is probably humanity's best hope for powering our civilisation in a way that doesn’t cause calamitous Global Warming. Luckily, the technology behind solar power has been improving at an accelerating rate. Now solar panels can run a much higher efficiencies than ever before and at a much lower cost. This has prompted a number of countries to look to solar for their next major power plant projects, and some truly huge sites are being built.
The Topaz Solar Plant generates a massive 550 Megawatts of electricity
Just this week, the world’s largest ever solar plant, the Topaz Solar Plant went online. Generating a massive 550 Megawatts of electricity this project is a marvel of high tech engineering. Comprised of no less than 9 million individual photovoltaic panels, the plant sits in a hot desert area in San Luis Obispo County, California. In total it cost 2.5 billion dollars, and will contribute towards California’s ambition 30% renewable energy target by 2020.
While this is currently the largest solar project in the world there are many more which could unseat it in the coming years. Next year the even bigger Solar Star project, also in California will go online and generate a larger 579 Megawatts of electricity. Further into the future other planned solar projects could generate a Gigawatt or more of solar power from a single plant.