- Tengger Desert Solar Park, China: Often referred to as the “Great Wall of Solar”, the vast plant covers an area of 43km². It is located in a 1,200km² stretch of desert near Zhongwei in Northern China. Developments like this benefit from the decrease in production costs of photovoltaic panels over the last few years. With 60% of the world’s solar panels being made in China, the country is in a prime position to make the most of the technology. The park is continuing to expand but currently comprises over 20 integrated photovoltaic power plants, generating up to 1547 megawatts — more than any other solar farm in the world.
2. Ivanpah Solar Facility, USA: Three solar thermal power plants cover 14.2km2 of the California/Nevada border in the Mojave Desert. The plants use a power-tower concentrated solar system developed by BrightSource. Rings of mirrors reflect sunlight to a 459-foot tower that sits in the center. This concentrated sunlight heats water stored at the top of the tower to create steam. From there the system works like a traditional power plant, with the steam being piped from the boiler to turn a turbine and create electricity. Transmission lines carry this power to over 140,000 homes each year in California.
3. Siwha Lake Tidal Power Station: Sihwa Lake is an artificially constructed lake off the coast of South Korea. It was built in 1994 using a 12.7km long seawall at Gyeonggi Bay. Sluice gates in the seawall periodically open to circulate seawater and prevent contamination of the lake. The Tidal Power Station became operational in 2011, to make use of the inflows. The Station also helps to boost water circulation by 200%. The tidal barrage is the world’s largest tidal power installation and was constructed at a cost of $560 million. It generates 552.7GWh of power each year — enough to power a city of 500,000 people. The equivalent output of an oil-powered station would create 315,000 tons of CO2.
4. Walney Wind Farm, UK: At a cost of over $1 billion to build, the Walney Offshore Wind Farm is the largest in the world. Wanley Wind Farm occupies an area of 55 square miles in the Irish Sea. Located to the west of Walney Island, off the coast of Cumbria, the wind farm features a total of 189 wind turbines. Each turbine stands 623ft tall and has a capacity of between 7MW and 8MW. The wind farm has a total capacity of 650MW, which is enough to power 600,000 homes in the UK.
5. Roscoe Wind Farm, TX: 627 wind turbines are spread across 400km2 of Texas. The complex is a result of a collaborative effort between 300 landowners and renewable energy companies (such as Mitsubishi, General Electric,and Siemens AG). Roscoe Wind Farm comprises one of the largest onshore wind farms in the world, with construction costs of the project totaling over $1 billion. Roscoe Wind Farm produces 781.5MW of electricity, which is enough to power approximately 230,000 homes. This amounts to approximately 10% of the total Texas power market. The Roscoe Wind Farm is estimated to save approximately 375,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions.
6. The Geysers, CA: Occupying 45 square miles along the border of Sonoma and Lake County, these naturally occurring steam field reservoirs are the result of a large magma chamber located four miles below the surface. These magma chambers span an impressive eight miles in diameter. The fractured and permeable rock around this chamber allows water to get close enough to the magma to heat and turn into steam, which is then forced back to the surface. Energy companies have capitalized on this natural phenomenon to create the world’s largest complex of geothermal power plants. 22 facilities are located on the field, drawing steam from over 350 wells.
7. Three Gorges Dam, China: The largest hydroelectric dam in the world is so huge that it’s been said that a shift in its total water mass can actually slow the rotation of the planet. Built across the Yangtze river near the town of Sandouping in Western China, the dam was first envisioned in 1919, however, it wasn’t until 1992 that the project was finally approved, with construction commencing in 1994. In 2012, 18 years after beginning construction and almost 100 years after the idea was first conceived, the Three Gorges Dam became operational. The water flows over 32 main electricity-producing turbines — each of which is capable of producing up to 700MW of power.