Initially, the photovoltaic panels were designed to generate electricity for space missions. They are now used in over 100 countries and they represent the fastest growing natural source of power in the world.
London developed a solar energy program that would generate 25,000 jobs and an annual income of $2 billion. New York plans to become a USA leader in solar energy and many other cities follow their examples. But these are plans. What happens in the real world? Can a constantly growing eco-community rely on solar power plants in their chase of energetic independence?
In the following article, we will discuss about top 3 most successful European countries in this field. They developed large solar power plants that are true masterpieces of engineering, technological advance and clever management.
The PV power plant Girasol from Portugal is the second largest solar plant in the world, generating 62 MW of power from nearly 350,000 solar panels. They cover an area equivalent to 150 football fields in one of the sunniest and most underdeveloped regions of the country. The plant could provide electricity for more than 20,000 homes.
Spain is one of the European countries with most hours of sunshine and this is one of the reasons they become one of the leaders in developing solar energy. In 2008, their capacity was about 3.5 GW of solar power and the Government has removed economic barriers between renewable energy sources and electricity grid so they could rely more on solar energy and less on fossil fuels.
One of the largest solar power plants in Spain is located in Beneixama, covering a 500,000 square meters area. There are approximately 100,000 solar panels producing 20 MW of power.
Because we talked about how can we turn our community in an eco-friendly one, the Telefonica Bussines Park in Madrid presents to you the largest solar roof in Europe. With an area of 57,000 square meters of which 21,000 will be occupied by solar panels, the green roof generates about 3.6 GWh per year. This means that this design could reduce 15% of heating bills and 34% of air conditioning bills. That is some way to build an eco-community!
By far, the European leader in terms of large solar power plants is Germany. They have dozens of plants throughout the country and thousands of roofs covered in solar panels.
One of the biggest solar arrays in the world is the Pocking solar park in Bavaria. Located on a former military base, on approximately 16 km of land they provide with electricity 3300 houses producing 10 MW of power. This power plant reduces gas emissions with about 10,000 tons per year.
There are many eco-community examples in Germany: In Tubingen, an entire building façade was covered with 970 solar panels with an installed power of 43.7 kW and it is expected to produce 26,000 kWh per year. And there are some suburbs that produce their own energy demand, like Quierschied in Gottelborn or Furth suburb which produce MW of energy annually.
But there is more to come. In July 2011 GP Joule company has started the construction of the largest solar power plant in Germany (and Europe as well) on a land of 152 hectares in Brandeburg. The company is using 306,000 solar panels and it is expected to generate 70,000 MWh of electricity annually, which is enough for 17,500 households.
As future plans, Germany wants to reduce gas emissions with 40% by 2020, and they also want to shut down all their nuclear power plants and replacing all of them with renewable energy sources by 2022.
So do you still ask yourself if this means that the partnership between eco-communities and solar energy has a brilliant future? I say deffinitely yes! Solar energy is a very sustainable and relatively cheap solution but it is not the only one. We can always combine it with hydro or wind power in order to obtain better results in any climate on Earth.