Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Comparison of commercial aspects and generation efficiency of world's largest solar power plants

Aerial view of the 25 sq km Longyangxia solar farm ..
It was great news to hear that the Longyangxia solar power plant using 4 million (40 lakhs) solar panels generating 850 MW spread over 25 sq km in the Gobi desert in western China is now the world's largest solar power plant of the world overtaking the Kamuthi, TN India solar power plant of Adani generating 648 MW, deploying 25 lakh solar panels spread over 10 sq km area. (click here for Kamuthi details)

Cost wise Longyangxia generates each MW of solar energy at $1.047 million while Kamuthi generates at $1.08 million per MW, a 3% advantage for China over the global leader India, all this while. Comparing this with the $2500 million spent for the 570 MW Topaz solar power plant in California US, at a cost of $4.2 million per MW energy generated, it is already a foregone conclusion where the west is headed to.

Land use efficiency wise Kamuthi in South India having its solar farm spread over 10.1 sq km land area is about 100% more efficient than Longyangxia in the Gobi desert spread over 25 sq km of land area.

In terms of generation efficiency the Kamuthi plant generates 25.92 MW per lakh panels while Longyangxia plant generates 21.25 MW per lakh panels deployed, which is a 22 % higher efficiency for Kamuthi over Longyandxia plant.

Sheep  grazing on the solar farm land ..
In the generation efficiency, which is more a function of the general plant design of how the panels face the sun and the insolation capacity of the incoming solar rays, Longyangxia is at 36 deg North latitude while Kamuthi in Tamil Nadu is at 9 deg North latitude.  This explains for the superior generation efficiency at Kamuthi.

When the 2000 MW Pavanguda plant neaar Tumkur in Karnataka, S India comes into action in the next two years, total cost expected to be $2100 million at a cost efficiency of almost $1.05 million per MW of energy generated, equal to that of China.

Photo courtesy of Lanyyangxia plant to Guardian newspapers of UK .. Click here for the Guardian news item ..

The solar power energy generation competition between China and India has started in all earnest, leaving aside the expensive power generators in the west. The coming years we can expect to see lot of new solar and wind power plants coming up in the Middle East and Africa strategically placed near to the equator and able to genetrate with very high efficiencies.

Wind power generation is about 250%  of solar power generation across the globe presently. With the industrial giants India and China waking up, the picture is going to change for the better.


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