Sarnia Photovoltaic (PV) Power Plant

Sarnia Photovoltaic Power Plant near Sarnia, Ontario in Canada, is as of September 2010 the world’s largest photovoltaic plant with 80 MWp.

20 MWp Phase I was completed in December 2009 and 60 Phase II in September 2010. Plant consists of over 1,000,000 panels. The project is developed by Enbridge.

The Sarnia Photovoltaic Power Plant project was originally proposed by Opti-Solar under the Standard Offer Contract program. Opti-Solar had started contstruction on one of the several 10 MW contracts it had obtained from the Ontario Power Authority.

Opti-Solar failed in the development of its technology and had installed only one MW of its first 10 MW plant when it sold rights to the project to First Solar.

To my knowledge, First Solar is building two 10-MWAC projects using its inhouse thin film product. Canadian Hydro Developers is either the owner now or will be when the project is complete.

Because the contracts are in kWAC the 20 MW project is likely rated at 23 MWDC.

There has been heated debate about this and other large solar PV farms on prime ag land so I thought I'd visit one and see for myself. At least in this case, the project is on the peri-urban fringe of Sarnia with suburbs, stripmalls, malls, and assorted detritus of North American sprawl swallowing the existing ag land. My impression was that this particular project area would have become another mall or something similar and was destined to be bulldozed within a decade.

The site was also near a landfill and if the parcel didn't become a mall it could have become a landfill.

Nevertheless, it was farm land prior to construction and its now fast becoming one of the largest, if not the largest solar PV farms in North America.

Shiraz solar power plant

Shiraz solar power plant is a concentrating solar power type power station situated near Shiraz, Iran which became operational in 2009. The plant uses concentrating parabolic mirrors to focus a beam of light on a tower making steam for electricity generating turbines. It has a capacity of 250 kilowatt hours. It is a pilot project aimed at developing technologies needed for larger solar power plants, and is currently being upgraded to 500 KWh capacity.

The Shiraz solar power plant boasts a modest 250 KW energy production capacity. It’s a solar thermal plant that uses parabolic mirrored troughs to gather sunlight. The mirrors focus the sunlight in an intense ray on a tube that runs the length of the array of mirrors. Inside the tube, a liquid insulated by a vacuum transfers the heat of the mirrors to a traditional generator, where it’s used to produce steam and generate electricity.

Placing an economic value on renewable resources makes sunny Iran rich in solar energy potential. Iran took its first step toward the large scale realization of that potential this week with the inauguration of its first solar energy plant. The plant was constructed with domestic materials and labour in Shiraz, the Fars province.

This solar thermal plant joins some 4,075 small scale solar thermal installations throughout Iran–3,781 residential solar water heaters and 294 public baths heated with solar thermal energy. Iran makes less use of photovoltaic energy, but the Ministry of Energy News Agency mentions a 40 house solar village supplied with photovoltaic energy.

The Iran Daily reports that Iranian energy minister Parviz Fattah sees the Shiraz plant as a first step in Iran’s commitment to solar energy technology, which will increase in Iran along with greater government investment.

“The country backs the use of alternative and renewable energy sources,” said Fattah. “In future alternative energy sources will be greatly developed in the country. The growth of investments in this sphere is expected.”

English information about the Shiraz plant is hard to come by, but more photos of the plant and information in Farsi is available via the Renewable Energy Organization of Iran. Another source, an article in the Tehran Times (no longer available in the paper’s archives, but republished here by a reader) suggests that the completion of the solar plant was several years behind schedule, having been initially slated for the Iranian year 1383 rather than the current year 1387.

Archimede Solar Power Station

Archimede solar power plant is a concentrated solar power plant at Priolo Gargallo near Syracuse in Sicily, Italy. The plant was inaugurated on 14 July 2010. It is the first concentrated solar power plant to use molten salt for heat transfer and storage which is integrated with a combined-cycle gas facility. It uses technology developed by ENEA and Archimede Solar Energy, a joint venture between Angelantoni Industrie and Siemens Energy. Archimede is owned and operated by Enel.

The plant is called "Archimedes" after the rows of huge parabolic mirrors used to capture the sun's rays, which recall the "burning mirrors" that Archimedes is said to have used to set fire to the Roman ships besieging Syracuse during the Siege of Syracuse (214–212 BC).[1] The existing gas-fired power plant on the site was augmented by Archimede. It produces 5 megawatts of electricity, enough for 4,500 families.

The Archimede solar thermal power plant consists of a field of about 30,000 square metres (320,000 sq ft) of mirrors (the parabolic collectors) that concentrate sunlight onto 5,400 metres (17,700 ft) of pipe carrying the molten salt fluid. Molten salt is used as the heat transfer fluid in solar field and is heated to 550 °C (1,022 °F). The thermal energy is then stored in a hot tank and is used to produce high pressure steam to run steam turbines for electricity generation, reducing the consumption of fossil fuels and, as a result, enhancing the environmental performance of the combined-cycle plant. The solar collectors (the parabolic mirrors and pipes or receivers), together with a steam generator and two heat storage tanks – one cold and one hot – make up the solar portion of the system.

When the sun shines, the thermal fluid drawn from the cold tank is circulated through the network of parabolic collectors, where it is heated to a temperature of 550 °C (1,022 °F) and injected into the hot tank, where the thermal energy is stored. The fluid is then drawn from the hot reservoir to produce steam at high pressure and temperature, which is sent to Enel's nearby combined-cycle plant, where it contributes to electricity generation.

This system enables the plant to generate electricity at any time of the day and in all weather conditions until the stored thermal energy is depleted.

The addition of the solar plant to the power station should significantly reduce the amount of gas burnt at the plant and cut carbon dioxide emissions by 7,300 tonnes.

Archimede solar power plant
Country Italy
Town/city Priolo Gargallo
Owner Enel
Status Operational
Fuel Solar
Technology concentrated solar power, combined-cycle gas
Installed capacity 5 MW
Commissioned 2010

Sierra Sun Tower Solar Power

Sierra Sun Tower is a 5 MW commercial concentrating solar power (CSP) plant built and operated by eSolar. The plant is located in Lancaster, California and is the only CSP tower facility operating in North America.

The Sierra SunTower facility is based on power tower CSP technology. The plant features an array of heliostats which reflect solar radiation to a tower-mounted thermal receiver. The concentrated solar energy boils water in the receiver to produce steam. The steam is piped to a steam turbine generator which converts the energy to electricity. The steam out of the turbine is condensed and pressurized back into the receiver.

eSolar unveiled the 5 MW Sierra Sun Tower plant, a commercial facility in Lancaster, California that demonstrates the company's technology. Sierra SunTower is interconnected to the Southern California Edison (SCE) grid and, as of spring 2010, is the only commercial CSP tower facility in North America.

The project site occupies approximately 8 hectares (20 acres) in an arid valley in the western corner of the Mojave Desert at 35° north latitude.

Sierra Sun Tower includes two eSolar modules. 24,000 heliostats, divided between four sub-fields, track the sun and focus its energy onto two tower-mounted receivers. The focused heat converts feedwater piped to the receivers into superheated steam that drives a reconditioned 1947 GE turbine generator to produce electricity. The steam passes through a steam condenser, reverts back to water through cooling, and the process repeats.

During the 12 months of construction, Sierra SunTower created over 300 temporary jobs. In operation, the site employs 21 permanent employees.

Concurrent with the plant’s official unveiling, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger praised the eSolar solution, “…proving that California’s energy and environmental leadership are advancing carbon-free, cost-effective energy that can be used around the world.”

Sierra Suntower has been certified by the California Energy Commission as a renewable energy facility. Power from the facility is sold under a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with SCE, providing clean, renewable energy for up to 4,000 homes.

The 5 MW output from Sierra SunTower reduces CO2 emissions by 7,000 tons per year, an amount equivalent to planting 5,265 acres of trees, removing 1,368 automobiles from the road, or saving 650,000 gallons of gasoline.

Sierra Sun Tower was designed to validate eSolar's technology at full scale, effectively eliminating scaleup risks. The solar thermal equipment operating at Sierra SunTower forms a blueprint from which future plants will be built.

Sierra Sun Tower Awards

In December 2009, editors of Power Engineering magazine selected Sierra SunTower as the winner of the “Best Renewable Project”. Each year, Power Engineering magazine recognizes the world's best energy projects. The award distinguishes Sierra as an exceptional power generation project toward meeting growing global demand.

In February 2010, Sierra SunTower won Renewable Energy World’s “Renewable Project of the Year” award. The award recognizes eSolar's achievements in the clean energy industry by naming Sierra SunTower an exceptional breakthrough in the commercialization of solar thermal technology.

Kimberlina Solar Thermal Power Plant

The 5 megawatt (MW) Kimberlina Solar Thermal Energy Plant in Bakersfield, California is the first commercial solar thermal power plant to be built by AREVA Solar, formerly Ausra. The Kimberlina renewable energy solar boiler uses Compact Linear Fresnel Reflector (CLFR) technology to generate superheated steam. Each solar boiler has a group of 13 narrow, flat mirrors, that individually track and focus the sun's heat onto overhead pipes carrying water. The water boils directly into steam. The steam can then spin a turbine to generate electricity or be used as industrial steam for food, oil and desalination processes. The Kimberlina solar boiler currently achieves 750-degree F superheated steam. The next generation solar boiler under construction is designed to achieve 900-degree F superheated steam.

AREVA Solar's boiler is the first and only solar boiler certified with an S-Stamp by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME).

The Kimberlina Solar Thermal Power Plant was the first of its kind to be built in California in more than 20 years, with the previous plant being the Solar Energy Generating Systems, which employs solar troughs.