Around the world renewable energy is getting big, really big. Here are four projects that are breaking records with the largest generation capacities – from California to China. They’re way too big to comprehend from the ground with a standard camera, but we’ll do our best to show you them using drones, satellites and your imagination.
1. World’s largest solar PV plant
With an impressive 9 million solar panels, the HUGE Topaz Solar Farm spans 25.6 square kms across the Carrizo Plain in California! With a capacity of 550MW, it can power 160,000 homes.
From the ground it’s impossible to comprehend the size of this project, but this drone footage taken during construction will blow your mind:
Tied for 1st place is Desert Sunlight Solar, also coming in at 550MW and also located in California!
2. World’s largest solar thermal plant
So wen it comes to solar, clearly California is where it’s at. Not only do they have the largest PV array, they also top the concentrated solar thermal list with their Ivanpah plant in the Mojave Desert. Backed by Google and the U.S. Department of Energy, among others, the facility has 347,000 mirrors that concentrate powerful beams of sunlight at the top of three 135-meter-tall towers.
Note: this solar thermal facility has the largest capacity in the world, but smaller nearby facilities in Arizona and Nevada have included molten salt storage meaning they can continue to have capacity after the sun goes down.
3. World’s largest wave power plant
Okay, so it’s in the water so satellite imagery doesn’t quite work here – but if you’re looking for the world’s first, and largest, wave farm set your eyes on Portugal’s Aguçadoura. It might look like a giant red sea creature, but a series of these machines, flex and bend as waves hit them. Whilst it’s a long way behind wind and solar, with a peak capacity of 2.25MW, we still think it’s pretty amazing technology.
4. World’s largest wind farm
When it comes to massive wind energy projects, look to China. The term “behemoth” probably would’ve been a better fit than “farm” in regards to their Gansu Wind Farm. The Chinese Government, who owns and funds the project, are aiming for it to have a capacity of 20,000 MW by 2020, and they’re already more than a quarter of the way there at 6,000MW.
We might be one of the sunniest and windiest countries on Earth, but when it comes to epic renewable energy projects – Australia doesn’t make it on to the podium, not even for bronze. Two of our biggest are the Macarthur Wind Farm with a capacity of 420MW, and the Nyngan Solar Plant with a capacity of 102MW. It really is time for us to start catching up.
Read more in our report: The global renewable energy boom: how Australia is missing out