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Largest Photovoltaic Solar Farms – Are they Advantageous over Distributed Rooftop Solar and Why Utilities Love Them

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Solar Farms or Giant Solar Power Projects consisting of thousand of solar panels installed on acres of land are increasing  rapidly in the USA.While the European governments are discouraging the use of large installations of solar panels,the US is going the opposite way in installing these  power plants.The US government recently approved of a number of Solar Thermal Power Projects worth several gigawatt recently.

List of 10 Largest Photovoltaic Solar Farms in the World (in MW)

SarniaCanada97
Montalto di CastroItaly84
Finsterwalde Solar ParkGermany81
Rovigo Photovoltaic ParkItaly70
Olmedilla Photovoltaic ParkSpain60
Strasskirchen Solar ParkGermany54
Lieberose Photovoltaic ParkGermany53
Puertollano Photovoltaic ParkSpain50
Moura Photovoltaic ParkPortugal46

5 Largest Proposed PV Solar Farms

Ordos Solar ProjectChina2000Thin film CdTe from First Solar completion date 2019
Topaz Solar FarmUSA550Thin film CdTe from First Solar
Desert StatelineUSA300Scheduled to be completed in 2015
Desert SunlightUSA300Scheduled to be completed in 2015
Aqua CalienteUSA290Scheduled to be completed in 2014

Source : Wikipedia

Advantages of Solar Farms over Rooftop Solar Installations

1) Lower Cost and  Scale – The greater scale of these plants allows lower installations compared to smaller installations. The costs  are reduced in permitting, maintenance as well

2) Use of Disturbed Land – Solar Farms can be built on disturbed land like in Germany where they have been built on former airbases.

3) Utility Friendly – Large Solar Farms are controlled by utilities or IPPs while rooftop solar is generally in the ownership of residential owners or commercial owners. This results in less pushback from utilities which generally control transmission and allow easier acceptance of solar energy.

Disadvantages of Solar Farms over Rooftop Solar Installations

1) Long Delays in Permitting, Environment Clearance, Land Siting – Large Solar Farms have to go through a myriad of regulations and clearances. There have also been instances of lawsuits against solar thermal and solar PV plants in California by wildlife and environmental groups as well as local Indian tribes.

2) Electricity Transmission Costs – Grid Connection leads to additional costs for solar farms while rooftop solar can use existing transmission infrastructure.

3) Less Grid Stability – A Large Part of Distributed Solar is consumed locally while Farms supply 100% to the grid. That makes managing the grid difficult when solar penetration increases.

Summary

Distributed Solar Energy will become more and more important as the costs of solar energy decline.Governments around the world are also coming around the view to promote solar energy while utilities favor large scale solar farms.With increasing penetration of solar energy the whole raison d’etre of utilities become non-existent so they favor solar farms.On the other hand rooftop solar makes energy more democratic and also ultimately reduces transmission costs as well.However in the near future,both solar farms and rooftop solar should coexist.

Author Links

  1. Largest US Renewable Energy Producer NextEra Energy goes on a Solar Farm Buying/Building Spree
  2. List of Current and Future Solar Photovoltaic Energy and Solar Thermal Plants/Projects in India
  3. Why do Reputed Consultants like BCG remain Blind and Ignorant to Solar PV Advances and Competitiveness
  4. Ontario Cuts Feed in Tariff for Micro Solar Ground Mounted Plants but Honors Former Contracts under Strident Opposition
  5. Will China Dominate Global Wind like it is dominating Solar ; Europeans bleed while Chinese capture marketshare
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Abhishek Shah

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One Response so far | Have Your Say!

  1. GeaVox

    Another disadvantage is transmission losses, while distributed solar can be utilised at the point of consumption, with almost zero transmission losses, solar farms suffer from transmission losses unless they have complex grid conditioning infrastructure. It all adds to the cost and vulnerability of monolithic solar generation.

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