Harnessing the phenomenal power of the sun, the biggest solar farm in the world and the world’s largest floating solar power plant bear witness to human ingenuity and the pursuit of clean, renewable energy. As our appetite for electricity continues to soar, the world’s largest solar parks are a crucial component to satisfying this demand while simultaneously helping to mitigate the impacts of climate change. The power generated by these huge installations has the potential to transform the lives of millions, redefining the energy landscape and lighting the way for a greener tomorrow.
Solar farms as we recognise them today began appearing in California in the early 1980s. However as far back as the late nineteenth century, an American inventor and solar energy pioneer named Frank Shuman powered a toy engine by reflecting energy harnessed from the sun. Less than fifteen years later he built the world’s first solar thermal power station in Egypt.
In this list, solar parks are measured by nominal power, also known as installed capacity, terms used to describe the maximum amount of electricity a solar farm can produce under ideal conditions. The actual power produced may vary due to factors such as weather, location, and time of day, but nominal power offers a useful baseline for understanding potential capacity.
Let’s discover where the world’s largest solar park is located as well as the home of the world’s largest floating solar power plant.
Dezhou Dingzhuang Floating Solar Farm
Location: Dezhou, China | Brought online: 2021 | Nominal power: 320 Mw
In China’s eastern Shandong province on the Yellow Sea, the Dezhou Dingzhuang Floating Solar Farm is the world’s largest floating solar power plant. It was built to help lower the carbon emissions of the city of Dezhou, known colloquially as Solar Valley.
It’s believed that over 90% of the city’s electricity is derived from solar power. The solar plant is connected to a wind farm, together the annual output is expected to be somewhere in the region of 55 million kWh (kilowatt-hours).
Location: California, USA | Brought online: 2015 | Nominal power: 579 MW
When Solar Star was completed, it was the largest solar farm in the world by installed capacity. Spread across 3,200 acres of the Mojave Desert seventeen miles east of Edwards Air Force Base, it uses 1.7 million high-wattage, high-efficiency solar panels.
It’s believed that Solar Star produces enough energy to power over a quarter of a million homes, and the power output is said to be the equivalent of removing more than 100,000 cars from California’s roads.
Noor Abu Dhabi Solar Power Plant
Location: Sweihan, UAE | Brought online: 2019 | Nominal power: 1,200 MW
Noor, meaning ‘light’ in Arabic, is the world’s largest solar park on a single site. It has 3.2 million individual solar panels powering approximately 90,000 homes in Abu Dhabi.
The $870 million solar park uses an ingenious solution to keep the panels clean. A team of robots crawl the site using waterless technology to remove dust and other detritus. Each day they travel around 1,600 kilometres!
Benban Solar Park
Location: Aswan, Egypt | Brought online: 2019 | Nominal power: 1,650 MW
The Benban Solar Park is located in the remote western Nubian desert, roughly 40 kilometres west of Aswan and 650 kilometres south of the capital, Cairo. The park, a contender for the largest solar farm in the world, cost around $4 billion and provides energy to hundreds of thousands of Egyptian homes and businesses.
The vast complex covers an area of over 37 square kilometres (approximately 9,200 acres) and is divided into 41 separate plots of various sizes.
Huanghe Hydropower Hainan Solar Park
Location: Qinghai Province, China | Brought online: 2020 | Nominal power: 2,200 MW
In the remote and sparsely-populated province of Qinghai in the high-altitude Tibetan Plateau, the second biggest solar farm in the world has an installed capacity of a reported 2.2 GW.
Costing approximately $2.3 billion, the 564-acre site is home to over seven million solar panels. It’s said that the long-term goal of the Qinghai Province’s renewable energy plans, including wind farms and hydroelectric power plants, is to produce an astonishing 16 GW of power.
Bhadla Solar Park
Location: Rajasthan, India | Brought online: 2018 | Nominal power: 2,245 MW
The world’s biggest solar power plant is spread over an area of around 14,000 acres in the northern Indian district of Jodhpur, close to the border with Pakistan. The solar farm is reputed to have cost around $1.3 billion and contains over ten million individual solar panels.
Similar in size to Manhattan (14,600 acres), the largest solar farm in the world benefits from almost constant intense, dry heat between 46°C and 48°C. The area in which it is located has been described as ‘virtually unlivable.’ The nearest urban location is at least 80 kilometres away.
A Bright Future
In the dynamic realm of renewable energy, the titanic solar farms we see today are just the tip of an immense iceberg. As technological advancements continue to break barriers, the potential of solar power will expand exponentially, making it a linchpin in our planet’s sustainable future.
The world’s largest solar park, and those that come after, illustrate the profound impact of harnessing the sun’s energy, not just as a supplement, but as a cornerstone of global power generation.