In rush to bypass fossil fuels, competition gets fierce.
When it comes to producing energy, fossil fuels (coal, oil and gas) still reign supreme, but there’s been a lot of activity in producing renewable energy, including solar, geothermal, biomass and others. So, for every list of the “top” or “biggest” projects, expect more new facilities to shove these aside. Here’s a list of the largest renewable energy projects and facilities that came online in 2010:
Biggest hydroelectric plant—Asia seems to own this category, at least for now. In Vietnam, the Son La station connected with the nation’s power grid in 2010, and should generate 2,400 MW (24.0 GW) of power this year. These six hydroelectric turbines edge out the Three Gorges Dam facility in China, which generates 22 GW of power.
Biggest offshore wind farm—not surprisingly, the North Sea and area around Great Britain is a popular choice for these facilities. The biggest so far is the Watney Offshore Windfarms, which consists of 102 wind turbines in the Irish Sea. This facility generates about 367 MW of power, powering about 320,000 households. This plant beats out the previous champion, the Thanet Offshore Windfarm, off the shore of Kent, England, which puts out 300 MW.
Biggest onshore wind farm—this category is held by plants in the United States. The competition for these appears quite fierce, with the Roscoe Wind Farm in Texas (781 MW of power), and the Horse Hollow Wind Energy facility outside of Dallas (735 MW) of power. However, a 10,000 MW wind farm is in the proposal stages in China.
Biggest solar facility—European sites have topped out this part of the list, although a series of photovoltaic solar plants in Gujarat, India, will generate 1,000 MW of power when it goes online this year. Meanwhile, the biggest plants remain in Germany, Italy and Spain (including the current contender, the Olmedilla plant in Spain which uses 162,000 photovoltaic cells to generate 62 MW every sunny day).
Biggest geothermal plant—so far, the Nga Awa Purua plant in New Zealand tops the list, with a single turbine giving off 132 MW of power. Meanwhile, an interesting combination of a solar-powered and geothermal powered plant is producing 59 MW of power in Churchill County, Nevada.
Sources: Power/greenerideal.com, Scientific American, renewableenergyworld.com
Photo: Wikimedia Commons
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