In the second of a series of four blogs,solar pioneer Philip Wolfe lists the world’s largest solar parks. In thesearticles, a ‘solar park’ is defined as a group of co-located solar powerplants.
The concept of the ‘solar park’ was firstdeveloped in India and China seven or eight years ago. Regional energy agenciesin states such as Gujarat, Qinghai and Gansu identified suitable locationswhere several solar power plants could be sited together. The coordinatorsprovided for high-capacity grid connections and often also procured or providedthe land.
Probably the most notable early example isthe Charanka Solar Park in India’s Patan district. When this was first openedin 2012 by Gujarat’s then chief minister, Narendra Modi, it had a combinedcapacity of 224 MWP from 19 individual solar power plants, of which thelargest were 25P MW each. It has since been expanded to over 500 MW ofoverall capacity.
The largest solar parks now house over 50individual solar power plants. The solar park concept has subsequently beenadopted elsewhere in Asia and the Middle East. A similar approach wasimplemented by the Bureau of Land Management in the United States, when itdesignated several ‘Solar Energy Zones’, such as that at Dry Lake in Nevada.
The following list selects the solar parks,which are believed to have at least 500 MWAC of current operationalcapacity (typically equivalent to 600 MWP). Solar parks are expandedprogressively over time so, where possible, the potential final capacity ofeach has also been identified. For larger online images, click the hyperlinksin the text.
1. Golmud Desert Solar Park
Located in the desert to the East of Golmudin Qinghai Province, China, this park accommodates at least 55 solar power plantswith a combined capacity of over 1,800 MWAC. It includes a 200 MWP plantby Huanghe – the largest individual solar power plant in the world, when it wasfirst built in 2011.
It is not known what the final capacitywill be, but the overall area would be sufficient for an eventual 4 to 5 GW.
2. Bhadla Solar Park
In the north of India’s Rajasthan,the Bhadla Solar Park is being developed in several stages.The first five phases have provided just under 1,800 MW of capacity in 24plants (not all of which are yet visible on this satellite image).
The planned total capacity is 2.2 GW.
3. Haixi Delingha Solar Park
The Delingha Solar Park is located just north of Haixi, againin Qinghai Province, and houses over 40 projects with a combined capacity ofover 1,000 MW. This includes 3 CSP plants together delivering about 200 MW(edged in yellow on this aerial view).
Delingha has enough site area for aneventual capacity of at least 2 GW.
4. Pavagada Solar Park
Located in Karnataka state in India, to thenorth-east of the city of Pavagada, this solar park has a current capacity of 1 GW with 14operational plants, and a further 800 MW in construction.
It is scheduled to build out to a totalcapacity of 2 GW in the next few years.
5. Jinchuan, Gansu
Jinchuan in China’s Gansu province isalmost surrounded by solar power plants. The solar park of just under 1,000 MW capacity lies to thenorth west of the city, while a further cluster of projects is to the south (anaerial view of all these plants will be shown in the final blog of thisseries).
Jinchuan’s largest plant has a capacityover 200 MW.
6. Tengger Desert Solar Park
Some authorities (led by Wikipedia) listTengger as the largest solar power complex in the world, with 1,547 MWp (about1,250 MWAC), but this figure is unsubstantiated. With some 25 plants installedto date, we estimate that between 750 and 800 MWACis currently operational inthis desert solar park sited near Zhongwei in Ningxia, China.
The 43 square km site area would allowTengger Solar Park to eventually accommodate up to 1.5 GW.
7. Anantapur Ultra Mega Solar Park*
Also known as NP Kunta, short forNambulapulakunta, the district in Andhra Pradesh, where it is sited, this parkcurrently is scheduled for a total capacity of 1,500 MW. There have been somedelays, and it is understood that less than 1 GW is currently operational.
8. Rewa Ultra Mega Solar Park
This recent addition in India’s MadhyaPradesh, has only three solar plants, but a total capacity of 750 MW. Rewa Ultra Mega Solar Park, sometimes abbreviated to RUMS, hasno further expansion currently planned.
9. Benban Solar Park, Egypt
Though not due to be opened until laterthis year, it is understood that some 675 MW of capacity has already beencommissioned at this compact solar park in the desert in Aswan governorate. It isscheduled for an eventual capacity of 1.4 GW.
10. Wuwei Fengle Solar Park
A similar current capacity is hosted in thesliver of desert between Fenglezhen and Wuwei in Gansu province.
Pictured left, the Wuwei Fengle Solar Park offers less scope for expansionbut could perhaps double in size.
11. Qili Photoelectricity Park
Again in Gansu, lying just to thesouth-west of Qilizhen, this solar park contains 25 solar plants with some 650MW operational and at least a further 100 MW under construction.
Qili Photoelectricity Park comprises a mix of PV and CSP,with two ‘power tower’ projects (yellow borders in this image).
There is plenty of available space, so thispark could extend to at least 5 GW, if sufficient grid capacity can beprovided.
12. Shichengzi PV Industrial Park
Also known as Hami Solar Park, this is near Kumul in China’s Xinjiangprovince.
It hosts some 30 power plants with acombined capacity of about 600 MW and has the potential for expansion to atleast 1 GW.
13. Quaid-e-Azam Solar Park, Pakistan
This park (not illustrated) is sited inCholistan in Pakistan’s Punjab region and is planned for an eventual 1 GW ofcapacity.
About half of this is currently operationalin four plants at Quaid-e-Azam Solar Park.
14. Charanka Solar Park
This pathfinder development – alreadydescribed above – has now been expanded to some 500 MWAC (see image right)with a further 100 MW or more under development. Charanka Solar Park is scheduled to reach an eventualcapacity of 0.8 GW.
15. Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al MaktoumSolar Park
Although only 230 MW is currentlyoperational, I have included this solarpark (not pictured here), because it is scheduled to reach atotal capacity of 5GW, when completed by 2030. That may make it the largest inthe world, though several of the above – or others that haven’t yet reachedthis list – may well be bigger by then.