Photovoltaic power station

Large-scale photovoltaic system / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A photovoltaic power station, also known as a solar park, solar farm, or solar power plant, is a large-scale grid-connected photovoltaic power system (PV system) designed for the supply of merchant power. They are differentiated from most building-mounted and other decentralised solar power because they supply power at the utility level, rather than to a local user or users. The generic expression utility-scale solar is sometimes used to describe this type of project.

The 25.7 MW Lauingen Energy Park in Bavarian Swabia, Germany

The solar power source is via solar panels that convert light directly to electricity. However, this differs from, and should not be confused with concentrated solar power, the other large-scale solar generation technology, which uses heat to drive a variety of conventional generator systems. Both approaches have their own advantages and disadvantages, but to date, for a variety of reasons, photovoltaic technology has seen much wider use in the field. As of 2019, concentrator systems represented about 3% of utility-scale solar power capacity.[1][2]

In some countries, the nameplate capacity of a photovoltaic power stations is rated in megawatt-peak (MWp), which refers to the solar array's theoretical maximum DC power output. In other countries, the manufacturer gives the surface and the efficiency. However, Canada, Japan, Spain and the United States often specify using the converted lower nominal power output in MWAC, a measure directly comparable to other forms of power generation. Most solar parks are developed at a scale of at least 1 MWp. As of 2018, the world's largest operating photovoltaic power stations surpass 1 gigawatt. As at the end of 2019, about 9,000 plants with a combined capacity of over 220 GWAC were solar farms larger than 4 MWAC (utility scale).[1]

Most of the existing large-scale photovoltaic power stations are owned and operated by independent power producers, but the involvement of community and utility-owned projects is increasing.[3] Previously almost all were supported at least in part by regulatory incentives such as feed-in tariffs or tax credits, but as levelized costs fell significantly in the 2010s and grid parity has been reached in most markets, external incentives are usually not needed.