A solar power plant is based on the conversion of sunlight into electricity, either directly using photovoltaics (PV), or indirectly using concentrated solar power (CSP). Concentrated solar power systems use lenses, mirrors, and tracking systems to focus a large area of sunlight into a small beam. Photovoltaics converts light into electric current using the photoelectric effect. The largest photovoltaic power plant in the world is the 354 MW Solar Energy Generating Systems (SEGS) CSP installation located in the Mojave Desert, California. Other large CSP plants include the 250 MW Agua Caliente Solar Project in Arizona., the Solnova Solar Power Station (150 MW, 250 MW when finished), and the Andasol solar power station (150 MW), both in Spain.
Concentrated solar power plants first appeared in the 1980s. Solar power is increasingly used.
Productivity by location
- See also: Solar irradiance
The locations with highest annual solar irradiance lie in the arid tropics and subtropics. Deserts lying in low latitudes usually have few clouds, and can receive sunshine for more than ten hours a day. These hot deserts form the Global Sun Belt circling the world. This belt consists of extensive swathes of land in Northern Africa, Southern Africa, Southwest Asia, Middle East, and Australia, as well as the much smaller deserts of North and South America. Africa's eastern Sahara Desert, also known as the Libyan Desert, has been observed to be the sunniest place on Earth according to NASA.
Different measurements of solar irradiance (direct normal irradiance, global horizontal irradiance) are mapped below :
Images for kids
Part of the Senftenberg Solarpark, a solar photovoltaic power plant located on former open-pit mining areas close to the city of Senftenberg, in Eastern Germany. The 78 MW Phase 1 of the plant was completed within three months.
Solar power plant Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.