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Solar power plant facts for kids

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PV Soundless Freising
Solar energy absorbing panels on the sound barrier next to the Munich airport.

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 productivity of solar power in a region depends on solar irradiance, which varies through the day and is influenced by latitude and climate.

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 :

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