Author Options:

World's Largest Solar Farm Opens Answered

Over in Spain a new solar farm that takes up 247 acres has gone online. 'Tis huge!

Here are the numbers:

- 247 acres
- 20 megawatts peak power capacity
- 20,000 homes can be powered off of it
- 120,000 solar panels are used
- 300 days of sun a year in that area
- $28 million generated each year
- 42,000 tons of CO2 reduced each year



thats freakin amazing.... but i would have thought that it could power more homes....20,000 is a lot but not as much as i would have expected with 247 acres of solar panels

That's 80 homes per acre. I think that sounds pretty good.

You guys would crap yourselves if you knew how much energy it takes to make a single solar cell...

I was referring mostly to the amount of energy that it takes to produce the specialty supplies required to build a solar cell. Silicon mining is very energy intensive as the material damages equipment more than many other minerals. Also, copper mining requires more energy than nearly every other metal mined on earth. I agree that the nanocell is a step in the right direction because it more efficiently uses the materials, but I feel that we need to find a way to produce energy without using the earth's non-renewable resources. Algae, for example, have the potential to produce oil with the fluids within their cell walls. Their cell walls could then be pressed into briquettes that burn cleaner than any other fuel we have today. All of this energy would be captured from the sun in the most efficient way known right now: Photosynthesis. Algae is very renewable, as one cell can replicate itself many times in a very short amount of time i.e. "Algae Bloom". The only thing keeping us from this technology is an efficient way to grow the algae. That technology is being researched at my school, Missouri University of Science and Technology, as well as schools such as MIT, and University of Minnesota. Whatever we are striving for, we must know that there is no "end-all" solution, and we can always improve how we produce and utilize our energy.

Actually that's not true with the nanosolar cells. They simply print them with the equivalent of an ink jet printer in 100x8 foot strips. The process uses three layers of film and the product can be cut to any size. As ry25290 says, it's $1 a square foot. Two factories, one in California and one in Germany, started producing this past November and the entire 2008 production has been pre-sold. They are coming off the press as we speak.


10 years ago

I find it very interesting that nowhere in any of the links does it tell us how much the farm cost to build!

Put nano-solar panels on every roof in the US. Problem solved right?

No. Even at max full-sun output, most single-family homes would barely fit enough panels on the roof to power the house. Higher-density housing wouldn't work at all (high rise apartment buildings, offices, even condos. Steve Ciarcia's Newly solarized home has more area of solar panels than many SF Bay Area homes have yard. And then sometimes it's dark or cloudy.

That reply is part of the reason renewables have taken so long to get started properly - this single approach doesn't solve the whole problem, so we won't do it.

If you combine approaches, it does work. For instance, putting PV panels on windows has a dual benefit - they generate electricity, and reduce the load on air-conditioning by blocking some of the Sun's heat.

The Environmental Studies department at the University of East Anglia has no heating or cooling systems built in - a clever combination of thick walls and air-circulation means that it stores enough warmth in it's bulk over the Summer that it only needs the heat output of the students' bodies to keep it comfortable in the Winter. The PV built into the windows and on the roof supplies most/all of its other energy requirements.

OK, so system X only solves part of the problem, but combine it with systems Y & Z and it will.

Like those people on that island..... west.... Egg? it was on You&Yours; (radio4) ;-) they're using hydro, wind, & solar.

danke, danke, yes that's it. :-)

lol, only problem is that those things cost a lot and you have to get them installed too...

Actually nanosolar panels are extremely cheap( about $1 a square foot.) they're also light because they are "printed" on to a strong foil and you could install them yourself. Use the illegal Mexican safety system. Tie a rope to a tree on the other side of the house and tie the other end to you. :)

Only problem is that Nanosolar cells are going to be mass produced in 2010. I don't think I could wait that long.

What happened to conservation? It's much more efficient to combine car trips. It's also much safer to let your children take the bus to school. And for God's sake, keep your tires inflated to their proper pressure (pretty much 32 psi). Those aren't huge differences in life style, and yet they are free and can make an impact. And the Aussies are banning incandescent lightbulbs, making future purchases of bulbs CFC. That is a cheap investment for a long lived solution. Open the blinds so that the sun hits the interior of the house. It's warm it very quickly. And keep them closed during the summer. You can also have a film installed on them (like car tinting, but not dark) that knocks back a decent amount of IR during the summer. Maybe I'm just too old, but I am a lover of precise engineering. Don't overdo something, especially when there is a more cost effective method.

I like their effort, but I believe that this space would serve the enviroment better if it were covered with trees. In my area if solar were used in places that already was being covered a tremendous amount of power could be generated.How much benefit could it be to add a gridwork above a highway to carry solar panels ? There would be power generation as well as shading the roadway which could cause cooler tires and less blowouts by the big rigs.

This just doesn't make sense to me, solar power lends itself to a distributed power system so well, it would make more sense to put the panels on peoples houses. Yes I can think of the two main reasons not to, loss of control and money (but the power company could lease the space from the owner and sell them the power back, and the Gov't could regulate it) (247acres*43560 sq ft/acre)/20000 homes comes to 538 sq ft of solar panel per home. Roof space is in general wasted space, that picture looks like 1/3 sq mile of chaparral that's been destroyed for little purpose. Is "Pave the Planet" okay with environmentalists as long as it's paved in solar cells?

Soon there will be wars over who owns the sun.


10 years ago

Wow. I bet we could convert all the golf courses to solar farms (a win-win situation!)

That is just awesome. Nothing makes me happier than to see renewable enrgy sources at work.